Dillard University Mourns The Loss Of One Of Its Trailblazers

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It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of one of Dillard’s trailblazing daughters, Dr. Barbara Guillory Thompson, who died on Sunday, August 2, 2015.

Pearlie Hardin Elloie, left, and Barbara Guillory Thompson visit the Tulane uptown campus in summer 2013, 50 years after they entered the university. (Photo: Tulane.edu)

Barbara Guillory Thompson served Dillard University in many capacities for 42 years. She retired from the university as chair of the Division of Social Sciences, chair of the sociology department, University Marshall, and chair of the tenure and promotions committee. Thompson also served as direor of institutional research from 1974-1976. She is a native New Orleanian, a product of the public school system, and a cum laude sociology graduate from Dillard’s Class of 1957. She earned an M.A. in sociology from Louisiana State University in 1960. She was the first Black female student to live in the dormitory at LSU. She wrote a thesis on the “Career Patterns of Negro Lawyers in New Orleans.” By 1960 she was ready to challenge another educational barrier, and became a litigant in a class action suit against Tulane University. The court decision made possible the attendance of Black students at the graduate and undergraduate levels. She completed the requirements for the Ph.D. degree by writing a dissertation on ”The Black Family: A Case for Change and Survival in White America.” Thompson made a tremendous impact outside the academy by advocating equity for voiceless government workers.

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The City Council of New Orleans appointed her a member of the New Orleans Civil Service Commission from 1981-1992, and chair of the august body from 1989-1992. She was the first Black, the first woman, and the first non-attorney to be named chair. Thompson was active in numerous professional and learned societies, such as the American Sociological Association and the Southern Sociological Association. She has numerous publications, some written independently and some co-authored with her late husband Daniel C. Thompson.

In 2004, Dillard University awarded her an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters and in 2013 she received a Presidential Citation. At that time, the University also replaced her honorary degree that was lost in Hurricane Katrina. She was the recipient of numerous other honors and awards ranging from membership in the Louisiana Black History Hall of Fame, to citations from the governor, mayor, and UNCF. She was a board member for Chatham School for Girls, a consultant for Minority Issue with Innovations Consulting, Inc., and a proposal reader for the Department of Education.

Funeral services will be held at Noon on Thursday, August 6, 2015 in Lawless Memorial Chapel on Dillard’s campus. Visitation is from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

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