Montclair State University dedicated the naming of Irvin D. Reid Hall on September 20 in honor of the former president who three decades ago was the driving force behind Montclair achieving university status.
The ceremony was held outdoors in front of the former Science Hall and home of the Department of Biology, the late afternoon setting highlighting both the quintessential beauty of Montclair’s campus and Irvin D. Reid’s numerous contributions to student success during his eight-year tenure as Montclair’s president.
“To have my name associated with any structure on this campus, but particularly a science building is just the most touching thing that I could think of,” Reid said in his remarks.
Kent Sluyter, Board of Trustees chair, opened the ceremony by noting Reid’s “defining role in making Montclair State University” what it has become. It was under Reid’s leadership that Montclair became the first state college to become a university, a moment marked at noon on April 27, 1994, with University bells ringing from the tower.
“He came here as a remarkable and distinct visionary in 1989,” said Psychology Professor Saundra Collins, the faculty representative to the Board of Trustees who championed the renaming of the building in Reid’s honor. “We had no idea how Dr. Irvin D. Reid would rock this campus.”
Reid’s contributions included creating the Center for Academic Success and graduate education; expanding the honors program and computerization of campus; building Yogi Berra Stadium and the ice arena, and commissioning architectural plans for Science Hall.
In petitioning the State of New Jersey for university status, he transformed the expectations of Montclair, the designation leading to Montclair’s evolution as a doctoral research institution.
He also created the Global Education Center to internationalize the campus, both in terms of its student profile and the issues addressed. “I saw as we were walking across campus today – and the part that touched me the most – a sign that said, ‘Come to a recruitment for study abroad.’ Global education has always been at the heart of much of what I believe in,” Reid said.
After serving Montclair until 1997, Reid became the first African American president of Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He also served as the inaugural Eugene Appplebaum Chair in Community Engagement and Director of the Forum on Contemporary Issues in Society, which offered students and the public international study and engagement opportunities, particularly in Africa. He retired from those roles in 2018.
Among his career accomplishments, Reid said he is most proud of his time at Montclair. “Because I quite frankly learned to be president here.”
President Jonathan Koppell noted that Reid ranks among a “chain of leaders” who over Montclair’s 115-year history contributed a lasting impact. “Students who are doing research in Reid Hall,” Koppell said, “will benefit and they will be your enduring legacy.”
Nearly 200 current and former University, trustees, retired faculty, current faculty and staff, and alumni – including members of the Student Government Association during Reid’s tenure – attended the event.
A reception followed at University Hall, where Reid was further honored with the creation of a scholarship in his name. The Irvin D. Reid African American Studies Award will provide tuition assistance to students in the African American Studies program who are committed to using their intellect to solve social problems, elevate social justice and build a world where equity thrives.
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This article was featured in the Winter 2024 edition of Montclair magazine.