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Joseph T. Taylor

Faces of IUPUI: Joseph T. Taylor

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Former Dean Joseph T. Taylor works at his desk in 1971. Photo courtesy of the School of Liberal Arts

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.

Former IUPUI Chancellor Glenn Irwin, Former Assistant Dean of the School of Nursing Frances Orgain, former IUPUI Chancellor Maynard Hine, and Joseph Taylor at the School of Nursing Symposium in 1970.
Joseph Taylor at the groundbreaking of Cavanaugh Hall in 1968 with former IU President Herman B Wells, former Indianapolis Mayor Richard Lugar, former IU Trustee Donald Danielson, and former IU President Elvis Stahr.
Joseph Taylor sits with a 20 years of IUPUI banner.

From top: (From left) Former IUPUI Chancellor Glenn Irwin, former Assistant Dean of the School of Nursing Frances Orgain, former IUPUI Chancellor Maynard Hine, and Taylor at a School of Nursing Symposium in 1970; (From left) Former IU President Herman B Wells, Taylor, former Mayor of Indianapolis Richard Lugar, former IU Trustee Donald Danielson, and former IU President Elvis Stahr at the Cavanaugh Hall Groundbreaking in 1968; Taylor sits with the IUPUI 20th Anniversary banner. Photos courtesy of IUPUI Special Collections and Archives

Deeply committed to the Indianapolis community, Taylor didn't limit his impact to campus. He played a key role in the integration of Indianapolis Public Schools, serving as one of two commissioners who assisted school officials in the desegregation effort. When the School of Liberal Arts created a symposium that focused on issues of urban life and diversity, Taylor's name was an obvious choice to demonstrate IUPUI's commitment to engagement on campus and in the community. The Joseph T. Taylor Symposium is in its 30th year and is held each February.

Joseph T. Taylor Hall was renamed in his honor in 2011. The building originally served as IUPUI's first university library and later became the home of University College, one of the cornerstones of students' academic lives at IUPUI.