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Walter J. Leonard

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Information about Walter J. Leonard

Profile image of Walter J. Leonard

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Academic Administrator
College President
Law Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Coconut Cake, Chicken, Salmon
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
West Indies, Andalusia, Spain
Favorite Quote:
In Order For One To Be Certain That One Has Done One's Best, Have A Fetish For Preparation. $

Birthplace

Born:
10/3/1929
Birth Location:
Alma, Georgia

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Academic Administrator
College President
Law Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Coconut Cake, Chicken, Salmon
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
West Indies, Andalusia, Spain
Favorite Quote:
In Order For One To Be Certain That One Has Done One's Best, Have A Fetish For Preparation. $

Birthplace

Born:
10/3/1929
Birth Location:
Alma
See how Walter J. Leonard is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

A leading educator and scholar, Walter Leonard was born on October 3, 1929, in Alma, Georgia. His early education was in the Savannah, Georgia, public school system and later at Savannah State College. He went on to study at Morehouse College, Atlanta University’s Graduate School of Business, Howard University School of Law and Harvard University Business School.

Leonard has served as Assistant Dean of both the Howard University School of Law (1968-69) and Harvard University Law School (1969-71). As Assistant Dean and Assistant Director of Admissions at Harvard Law School, he is credited, through the use of conferences, recruitment, and outreach programs, with the education of more minority and women lawyers than almost any other administrator in the United States. In 1971, Leonard was appointed to the position of Special Assistant to Harvard University's President, Derek Curtis Bok. There, Leonard was the primary force behind the Harvard Plan, a blueprint for establishing equal educational and employment opportunities in higher education. The Plan was cited approvingly by the United States Supreme Court in the Regents of the University of California v. Bakke decision and adopted by hundreds of colleges and universities nationwide. Leonard also chaired the committee that established Harvard University’s W.E.B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research.

Perhaps, his most awe-inspiring moment was in 1978, when, as president of Fisk University, Leonard used a $1.5 million insurance policy on his life as collateral to obtain a loan to keep the school from closing. Fisk was nearly bankrupt when Leonard assumed the presidency in 1977. Over the course of his seven year presidency, Leonard managed to raise more than $12 million dollars for Fisk University.

Over the years, Leonard has found time to serve as a board member or consultant for many of the country’s most-renowned policymaking organizations, including the Ford Foundation, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the United Negro College Fund, and many others. He has published numerous scholarly articles on such topics as the First Amendment, black capitalism, the student protest movements in the universities and affirmative action. Two fellowships were created at Oxford University in his honor.

Leonard passed away on December 8, 2015.

See how Walter J. Leonard is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Walter J. Leonard's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Walter J. Leonard lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Walter J. Leonard describes Alma, Georgia
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Walter J. Leonard describes his maternal family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Walter J. Leonard describes his maternal grandfather, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Walter J. Leonard describes his maternal grandfather, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Walter J. Leonard talks about his maternal grandfather's perception of slavery and discrimination
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Walter J. Leonard talks about his maternal grandfather's passion for education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Walter J. Leonard describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Walter J. Leonard describes his stepfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Walter J. Leonard talks about living with his grandparents and being "home-schooled"
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Walter J. Leonard talks about his uncle's attending the Howard University School of Divinity, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Walter J. Leonard talks about his uncle's attending the Howard University School of Divinity, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Walter J. Leonard describes his childhood personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Walter J. Leonard talks about questioning American history as a youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Walter J. Leonard describes how his history teacher influenced him as a youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Walter J. Leonard describes how his music appreciation teacher influenced him as a youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Walter J. Leonard describes how his music appreciation teacher shaped understanding of music as a youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Walter J. Leonard describes how his English teacher influenced him as a youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Walter J. Leonard talks about winning the Bausch & Lomb Science Award as a high school student
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Walter J. Leonard describes how his biology teacher introduced him to the work of Philippa Schuyler
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Walter J. Leonard describes how the culture of the early and mid-1900s shaped African American success, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Walter J. Leonard talks about African American accomplishment, resistance, and activism during the 19th and 20th Centuries
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Walter J. Leonard talks about Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Walter J. Leonard talks about Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Walter J. Leonard describes how the Niagara Movement was founded
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Walter J. Leonard describes why the NAACP was founded
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Walter J. Leonard describes how the National Urban League was founded
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Walter J. Leonard describes how the public school system responded to different immigrant groups in the early 20th Century
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Walter J. Leonard talks about the historical significance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Walter J. Leonard talks about the historical significance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Walter J. Leonard describes why he joined the U.S. Coast Guard
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Walter J. Leonard talks about serving as a storekeeper on the U.S.S. Duane for the U.S. Coast Guard
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Walter J. Leonard talks about serving in the U.S. Coast Guard
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Walter J. Leonard describes taking a placement examination after being honorably discharged from the U.S. Coast Guard
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Walter J. Leonard talks about graduating from Alfred E. Beach High School and enrolling at Savannah State college in Savannah, Georgia
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Walter J. Leonard describes meeting his wife
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Walter J. Leonard talks about founding the NAACP Youth Council at Savannah State College in Savannah, Georgia
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Walter J. Leonard describes what influenced him to major in chemistry as a student at Savannah State College in Savannah, Georgia
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Walter J. Leonard describes why he changed his major to humanities during his sophomore year at Savannah State College in Savannah, Georgia
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Walter J. Leonard describes how his Civil Rights activism led him to leave Savannah State College, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Walter J. Leonard describes how his Civil Rights activism led him to leave Savannah State College, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Walter J. Leonard talks about living and working in South Carolina the summer after he left Savannah State College
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Walter J. Leonard talks about attending the United States Department of Agriculture Graduate School in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Walter J. Leonard describes what motivated him to pursue a career in law
  • Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Walter J. Leonard describes how he became involved with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Walter J. Leonard talks about Clarence Clyde Ferguson, Jr., pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Walter J. Leonard talks about Clarence Clyde Ferguson, Jr., pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Walter J. Leonard talks the founding of the Atlanta Inquirer
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Walter J. Leonard talks about HistoryMaker Vernon Jordan
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Walter J. Leonard talks about enrolling at the Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Walter J. Leonard describes how he was named Assistant Dean of the Howard University School of Law
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Walter J. Leonard describes how he became Assistant Dean of Harvard Law School
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Walter J. Leonard describes Clarence Clyde Ferguson, Jr. influenced his being hired at Harvard Law School
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Walter J. Leonard talks about becoming the Chairman of the section of the minority groups of the Association of American Law Schools
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Walter J. Leonard describes a report he prepared on HistoryMaker and law professor Joyce Hughes
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Walter J. Leonard describes the strategy of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Walter J. Leonard describes the strategy of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Walter J. Leonard talks about his distant relatives
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Walter J. Leonard explains why he chose not to return to Savannah, Georgia to work with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Slating of Walter J. Leonard's interview
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Walter J. Leonard describes how he was hired as Assistant Dean of Harvard Law School
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Walter J. Leonard describes how he transformed the admissions process as Assistant Dean of Harvard Law School, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Walter J. Leonard describes how he transformed the admissions process as Assistant Dean of Harvard Law School, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Walter J. Leonard describes how the pool of minority student applicants grew during his tenure as Assistant Dean of Harvard Law School
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Walter J. Leonard comments on how the traditional law school admissions process led to the development of The Harvard Plan
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Walter J. Leonard talks about his a job offer he received from the Chrysler Corporation
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Walter J. Leonard describes what motivated him to accept a position as Assistant Dean of Harvard Law School, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Walter J. Leonard describes what motivated him to accept a position as Assistant Dean of Harvard Law School, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Walter J. Leonard describes how Derek Bok planted the seed for the development of The Harvard Plan, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Walter J. Leonard describes how Derek Bok planted the seed for the development of The Harvard Plan, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Walter J. Leonard describes the perception of his being hired as Assistant Dean of Harvard Law School
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Walter J. Leonard describes the process of developing The Harvard Plan, pt. 1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Walter J. Leonard describes the process of developing The Harvard Plan, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Walter J. Leonard describes the process of developing The Harvard Plan, pt. 3
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Walter J. Leonard describes how he developed The Black Lawyer in America Today Symposium, pt. 1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Walter J. Leonard describes how he developed The Black Lawyer in America Today Symposium, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Walter J. Leonard talks the significance of The Black Lawyer in America Today Symposium
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Walter J. Leonard talks about leaving his position as Assistant Dean of Harvard Law School
  • Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Walter J. Leonard shares a story about A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. and Clarence Clyde Ferguson, Jr., pt. 1
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Walter J. Leonard shares a story about A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. and Clarence Clyde Ferguson, Jr., pt. 2
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Walter J. Leonard tells a story about attorney Randall Robinson
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Walter J. Leonard talks about the law school experiences of A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. and Raymond Pace Alexander
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Walter J. Leonard describes working for three law schools at once
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Walter J. Leonard talks about living in the University of Virginia Colonnade Club
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Walter J. Leonard comments on the concept of colorblindness
  • Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Walter J. Leonard talks about Clarence Clyde Ferguson, Jr., pt. 1
  • Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Walter J. Leonard talks about Clarence Clyde Ferguson, Jr., pt. 2
  • Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Walter J. Leonard talks about Clarence Clyde Ferguson Jr.'s experiences attending Ohio State University
  • Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Walter J. Leonard describes how he became Clarence Clyde Ferguson, Jr.'s research assistant, pt. 1
  • Tape: 9 Story: 11 - Walter J. Leonard describes how he became Clarence Clyde Ferguson, Jr.'s research assistant, pt. 2
  • Tape: 9 Story: 12 - Walter J. Leonard describes his relationship with Clarence Clyde Ferguson, Jr.
  • Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Walter J. Leonard describes how he became Special Assistant to Derek Bok, President of Harvard University, in 1971
  • Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Walter J. Leonard describes his responsibilities as Special Assistant to Derek Bok, President of Harvard University
  • Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Walter J. Leonard talks about serving on the Selection Committee of the Nieman Foundation Fellowship Program
  • Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Walter J. Leonard describes how he helped facilitate the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology's repatriation of Native American artifacts
  • Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Walter J. Leonard describes his role in developing a university-wide daycare system at Harvard University
  • Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Walter J. Leonard describes how the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard University was established, pt. 1
  • Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Walter J. Leonard describes how the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard University was established, pt. 2
  • Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Walter J. Leonard talks about his role as Assistant to the President of Harvard University, Derek Bok
  • Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Walter J. Leonard describes helping Doris Mitchell, Assistant Dean of Radcliffe College, develop a black women's conference
  • Tape: 10 Story: 10 - Walter J. Leonard describes his hiring as the President of Fisk University, pt. 1
  • Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Walter J. Leonard describes his hiring as the President of Fisk University, pt. 2
  • Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Walter J. Leonard talks about Fisk University's significance in his life
  • Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Walter J. Leonard describes why he left his position as President of Fisk University
  • Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Walter J. Leonard describes the tension he faced with the Fisk University Board of Trustees
  • Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Walter J. Leonard describes the successes and challenges of his time as President of Fisk University, pt. 1
  • Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Walter J. Leonard describes the successes and challenges of his time as President of Fisk University, pt. 2
  • Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Walter J. Leonard describes how he became a Distinguished Fellow in the Institute for Educational Study at Howard University
  • Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Walter J. Leonard describes his experiences serving as the Executive Assistant to Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Alexander Farrelly
  • Tape: 11 Story: 9 - Walter J. Leonard describes his experiences as a Distinguished Fellow in the Institute for Educational Study at Howard University
  • Tape: 11 Story: 10 - Walter J. Leonard talks about the fellowship that was created in his honor at Wolfson College, Oxford University in Oxford, England
  • Tape: 11 Story: 11 - Walter J. Leonard reflects upon the significance of his lifetime appointment as a visiting scholar at Oxford University in Oxford, England
  • Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Walter J. Leonard talks about his plans for the future, pt. 1
  • Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Walter J. Leonard talks about his plans for the future, pt. 2
  • Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Walter J. Leonard shares advice for young African-Americans, pt. 1
  • Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Walter J. Leonard shares advice for young African-Americans, pt. 2
  • Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Walter J. Leonard shares advice for young African-Americans, pt. 3
  • Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Walter J. Leonard shares an anecdote about remaining true to oneself
  • Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Walter J. Leonard talks about the importance of acknowledging the contributions of one's predecessors, pt. 1
  • Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Walter J. Leonard talks about the importance of acknowledging the contributions of one's predecessors, pt. 2
  • Tape: 12 Story: 9 - Walter J. Leonard describes how Harvard University President Derek Bok's background shaped his sensitivities
  • Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Walter J. Leonard reflects upon what he considered was Harvard University's obligation to minorities in the 1970s
  • Tape: 13 Story: 2 - Walter J. Leonard talks about Harvard University's progressive dealings with African Americans and women
  • Tape: 13 Story: 3 - Walter J. Leonard describes his partnership with Derek Bok, President of Harvard University
  • Tape: 13 Story: 4 - Walter J. Leonard reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 13 Story: 5 - Walter J. Leonard narrates his photographs