BALTIMORE — During a special ceremony held on campus, Morgan State University President David Wilson, named the university’s College of Liberal Arts (CLA) in honor of the late James H. Gilliam Jr., a prominent lawyer, financier, humanitarian and Morgan graduate.
“Morgan’s liberal arts programs have cultivated many high achievers over our 150-year history, and James H. Gilliam Jr. was one of the most outstanding of those alumni,” said Morgan President David Wilson. “We are proud to celebrate his vision, his generosity and his work in the broader community with this dedication during our sesquicentennial year.”
Morgan’s College of Liberal Arts supports the educational ambitions of more than 1200 students pursuing bachelor’s degree in 13 majors. The college’s high-quality academic programs feature effective, student-centered teaching and learning, outstanding student achievement, cutting-edge faculty research and scholarship, and broad-ranging service to the professions and the community. The college provides a gateway of opportunity for a multiracial, culturally diverse student population and is strongly committed to basic and applied research and creative activities in all areas, consistent with Morgan’s Carnegie classification as a doctoral research institution.
Gilliam, who the college is now named after, earned his Bachelor of Arts in English at Morgan in 1967 and went on to receive a law degree from Columbia University in 1970. His illustrious career included law practiced in New York and in Wilmington, Delaware., and service in the administration of Delaware Governor Pierre S. du Pont IV as secretary of Community Affairs and Economic Development. He was the first African American to serve as a Cabinet Secretary in the state. In 1979, Gilliam joined Beneficial Finance Corporation, where he was executive vice president and general counsel until 1998.
After leaving Beneficial, Gilliam and his wife, Linda G.J. Gilliam, D.M.D., now a Morgan regent, formed the Gilliam Foundation, a philanthropic organization established to channel resources from their family into the community. In 2000, the foundation created a $1.5-million fine arts endowment at Morgan, in honor of Gilliam’s mother and his father, who was also a Morgan graduate, Class of 1948. The largest auditorium of the University’s Carl J. Murphy Fine Arts Center — the James H. Gilliam Sr. and Louise Hayley Gilliam Concert Hall— bears their names.
James H. Gilliam Jr. was an active board member or trustee of many corporations and foundations and chaired several other organizations. He served as chief counsel of Knickerbocker LLC, a private investment firm, until his untimely death in 2003, at the age of 58.
“Mr. Gilliam was a remarkable individual who remained committed to the students at Morgan State University,” said Dr. M’bare N’gom, dean of the CLA. “It is truly an honor to name the university’s largest school the James H. Gilliam, Jr., College of Liberal Arts. Today will be remembered in history as one of our finest hours.”