UPDATED with more details: Howard University is renaming its College of Fine Arts after Chadwick Boseman, who attended the college before going on to become an A-list actor playing iconic roles including Black Panther, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson and James Brown.
The honor comes after Boseman’s death in the prime of his career last August at age 43 from colon cancer. It also comes after Howard recently named Phylicia Rashad as dean of the recently reestablished College of Fine Arts.
As a student from 1997-2000, Boseman led protests against the HBCU’s plan to absorb the department into the College of Arts & Sciences. It was finally restored as a stand-along department in 2018, when Boseman returned to give the commencement address amid Black Panther’s record-breaking success.
“When Chadwick Boseman returned to campus in 2018 to serve as our commencement speaker, he called Howard a magical place. During his visit, I announced our plans to reestablish the College of Fine Arts and he was filled with ideas and plans to support the effort in a powerful way,” Howard president Wayne A. I. Frederick said Wednesday. “Chadwick’s love for Howard University was sincere, and although he did not live to see those plans through to fruition, it is my honor to ensure his legacy lives on through the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts with the support of his wife and the Chadwick Boseman Foundation..
Frederick said that Disney’s Bob Iger will oversee fundraising efforts for an endowment named after Boseman as well as construction of a new building that will be home to the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts among other departments. The Post said work on the new facility will start soon. (You can donate here.)
— Howard University (@HowardU) May 26, 2021
Boseman was born in South Carolina and after graduating from Howard attended the British American Dramatic Academy at Oxford, launching his career after. He received a posthumous Oscar nomination this year for starring in Netflix’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
His widow, Simone Ledward-Boseman, who was prominent on the awards circuit this past year as she gracefully accepted Boseman’s numerous awards, thanked the HBCU as part of the news today.
“I am extremely pleased that Howard University has chosen to honor my husband in this way and elated that Ms. Rashad has accepted the role as Dean,” she said today. “Chad was a very proud Bison — both Howard and Ms. Rashad played integral roles in his journey as an artist. The re-establishment of the College of Fine Arts brings this part of his story full-circle and ensures that his legacy will continue to inspire young storytellers for years to come.”