Dr. Joseph T. Taylor, the first dean of IUPUI's School of Liberal Arts, was an integral partner in the creation of the new IUPUI campus in 1969. University President Herman B Wells tapped Taylor to play this pivotal role by Indiana because of his unique ability to build consensus, effectively manage relationships, and positively influence people — a collaborative approach that became a model for IUPUI in its growing role within Indianapolis.
Taylor grew up in the Jim Crow South before attending the historically black Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. He transferred to the University of Illinois, where he received his bachelor's and master's degrees. Taylor's Ph.D. studies at IU were interrupted in 1942 when he was deployed with the U.S. Army to Europe until 1945. Soon after he left the military, Taylor married Hertha Mae Ward, an educator who spent her career teaching in the Indianapolis Public Schools.
In 1957, the Taylors moved to Indianapolis, and Dr. Taylor joined IU in 1962 as an associate professor of sociology. At the time, IUPUI had not yet been established. He served as dean of the IU Indianapolis Regional Campus from 1967-1970 and was the first dean of School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, a position he held until 1978. Taylor served as a special assistant and advisor to campus leaders until he was named professor emeritus in 1983. After retiring as dean, Taylor continued to teach and serve as special assistant to Chancellor Gerald Bepko.
"As an African American, Dr. Taylor was a pioneer at every stage of his academic career. He infused that perseverance and ability to break new ground into the very core of what has made IUPUI successful today," said former IUPUI Chancellor Dr. Charles Bantz.