As Towson University (TU) celebrated Homecoming on October 16, 2021, hundreds of alumni and students honored Julius “Dean” Chapman, TU’s first dean of minority affairs. During a ceremony, the lawn between the Media Center and Stephens Hall was officially renamed the “Dr. Julius Chapman Quadrangle.”
In fall 2019, TU dedicated a bronze bust to Chapman. It was then that President Kim Schatzel declared the area around it would be dedicated to his work and service. “Two years ago, I announced on that glorious day, there could be no better or fitting outcome than to name and dedicate this beautiful space right in the heart of campus,” Schatzel said on Saturday. “Dr. Chapman, it is my honor and privilege to dedicate this quad in your name this morning.”
During his 12-year career at TU, Chapman recruited and mentored African American students while establishing the Black Student Union; the Black Fraternity and Administrators Association; and the Black Cultural Center. Before Chapman started in 1968, Black student enrollment was less than one percent of the total student population. Today, 5,311 Black students are enrolled at Towson University, which Schatzel said is more than any other university in Maryland. In fact, TU’s 2021 incoming freshman class is its most diverse, with 59 percent identifying as racial or ethnic minorities. In reading these statistics to the crowd, Schatzel wanted to make sure everyone knew this evolution began because of the work done by Chapman.
“I can promise you, Dean Chapman, that we will not stop the righteous transformation you began 50 years ago,” Schatzel said. “A transformation to a diverse, inclusive university of excellence that has become a hallmark of TU’s nationally ranked academic enterprise and student life.” Chapman, who was in the front row for the ceremony, received a standing ovation when he approached the stage. “Every time I come back to Towson, I get a good feeling,” he said. “I get a feeling that it’s a new day. I want to thank you again and again for this opportunity and the support.”
Dr. Vernon Hurte, vice president for student affairs, introduced Chapman at the ceremony. TU, he said, thrives today because of Chapman’s innovative work. “Dr. Chapman,” Hurte said, “thank you for the decades of leadership you provided here at TU, and for laying the foundation for those like myself to come and continue the mission of providing an experience where all our students can live authentically and experience whatever success they desire.”
Alumni representing Towson University’s National Pan-Hellenic Council’s (NPHC) historically African American fraternities and sororities were in attendance, wearing their colors and letters proudly. Chapman brought historically Black Greek organizations— sometimes referred to as the Divine Nine—to campus 50 years ago. He couldn’t help but smile as the older and current generations celebrated him and each other.
During the event, five chapters of TU’s NPHC fraternities and sororities participated in a step show. Introduced by current NPHC President Naomi Bryant, the organizations shared their histories while honoring the alumni in attendance.
The event ended with a special announcement: the installation of a tribute honoring the NPHC organizations. Officially revealed by President Schatzel and Dean Chapman, the tribute will be a brick walkway through Chapman Quad lined with nine brick pillars. They will be topped with plaques featuring full-color crests, mottos and founding dates for each of the NPHC sororities and fraternities. And on the front of each pillar will be a plaque listing each chapter’s charter members.
The project, which will be funded completely through fundraising, received its first $10,000 donation from alumni members of Towson University’s Iota Phi Theta chapter. Rayvon Daniels, who spoke on behalf of his fellow fraternity members, said this walkway and quad are perfect ways to recognize Chapman.
“We are honored that we had an opportunity to embark upon our journey, starting with you,” Daniels said. “I stand here today as Iota Phi Theta celebrates its 48th year at Towson University, and the direction that this institution is moving in has us excited.”