Frederick Douglas Patterson (1901-1988) was president of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute and creator of the United Negro College Fund.
In 1935 Frederick Douglas Patterson became president of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, one of the foremost African American institutions of higher education in the country. His stated purpose at the time of his inauguration was not only to increase the vocational training of his students but also to raise them to higher levels of academic competency and thus make them more qualified wage earners. He is also remembered for his creation in 1943 of the United Negro College Fund, an organization dedicated to raising and distributing scholarships to deserving minority students.
After adding courses on the principles of nutrition and dietetics to the curriculum of Tuskegee, Patterson oversaw the adoption and growth of the federally sponsored school-lunch program. He felt that this program must be expanded because academic achievement rested on a strong nutritional base, which many underprivileged children lacked. He firmly believed that for Tuskegee to thrive, the school had to reach its potential students before they fell victim to poverty.
The Carver Foundation
In the early 1940s Patterson's administration also established the George Washington Carver Foundation, which provided grants and monies to qualified students. Begun in 1940 by Carver himself, the foundation nearly doubled its assets in six years, rising from thirty-three thousand dollars to sixty thousand dollars. The fund expanded its base by undertaking research from commercial firms, and by 1947 eleven students working under grants were researching in paper, ink, foods, and animal nutrition.
Creation of the United Negro College Fund
In 1943 Patterson called a meeting of the heads of all of the major predominantly black institutions of higher education to plan a joint fund-raising venture. The result was the organization of the United Negro College Fund, of which he was elected president. Originally twenty-seven institutions joined the organization, which was incorporated in New York. By 1945 the group had grown to thirty-two members, and by 1947 the organization was raising more than a million dollars annually.
As a member of President Harry S Truman 's Commission on Higher Education, Patterson helped file a 1947 report calling for the reorganization of higher education in the United States. The commission listed as its main priority doubling the number of students attending college. It also called for more types of scholarships, fellowships, and grants and called for the end of segregation—not because of ethical questions but because of the duplication of separate but comparable black and white programs. The commission also called for free education for all through the junior college level and a lowering of tuition and fees at colleges, graduate schools, and professional schools. Most of these suggestions were not enacted.
In 1946 Patterson's plan to improve the housing of farmers earning substandard incomes was reported and discussed in The New York Times . He felt that these lower-class tenants could create building blocks and erect fireproof structures inexpensively. This report attracted several potential investors, models were built on the Tuskegee campus, and the students constructed a four-room house for a neighboring farmer. As in other ventures, Patterson was in housing a man of vision and versatility.
Further Reading on Frederick Douglas Patterson
Frederick D. Patterson, Chronicles of Faith: The Autobiography of Frederick D. Patterson (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1991).