In Memoriam: Clarence Shelly, 1931-2022

Clarence Shelly a longtime administrator at the University of Illinois, died on January 17 at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, Illinois. He was 90 years old.

A native of Detroit, Shelly attended Wayne State University. His education was interrupted by service in the U.S. Army from 1952 to 1954. He returned to Wayne State after being discharged and played football and earned a bachelor’s degree in English.

Shelly began his career as an English teacher at Detroit’s Northeastern High School. During this time, he earned a master’s degree in education at Wayne State.

In 1968, Shelly was hired as the inaugural director of the Special Education Opportunities Program at the University of Illinois, one of the nation’s earliest and largest recruitment efforts of Black and students of color. His impact was felt immediately. In 1967, there were only 372 Black students on a campus of 30,400. In 1968 alone, 565 newly admitted Black and Latino students joined the student body.

Shelly was named dean of students in 1974, assistant vice chancellor in 1984, and later associate vice chancellor for student affairs. After his official retirement in 2001, he continued to serve the university as served as special assistant to the chancellor.


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  1. HBCU Watch says:

    Condolences to the Shelly family and his contributions to the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaigne (UIUC) and his recruitment efforts to increase the number of Black American students. Unfortunately, UIUC has an abysmal 5.4 % Black American student population in a state that’s 14.2 % Black American. This clearly mean that Pres. Killeen have a lot of work ahead of them.

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