Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett speaks at School of Architecture dedication banquet; Taylor descendents give $50,000
TUSKEGEE, Ala. (April 11, 2011) — Tuskegee University on April 9 officially dedicated the Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science with a black-tie banquet in the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center ballroom, featuring Valerie B. Jarrett, senior adviser to President Barack Obama.
Jarrett, who is the great-granddaughter of Taylor, expressed her family’s gratitude to the university naming the architecture school after the legendary architect who built most of the buildings on the campus.
“We’re gathered here to celebrate a great legacy,” Jarrett said. “That legacy is woven throughout Tuskegee’s campus … but there is so much more to his legacy — less tangible, perhaps, but no less real. It’s a legacy of values. It’s a legacy of family.”
Jarrett went on to describe Taylor’s commitment to ensuring that his five children had a college education, possessed good morals, had a desire to help others and were spiritually grounded. She talked about Taylor’s final days, including the day he died in the university’s chapel, which he designed.
“Robert Taylor would be so proud to see this school (of architecture) bearing his name,” Jarrett said.
Several presentations were made during the event:
Tuskegee University President Gilbert L. Rochon presented Jarrett with the Presidential Humanitarian Award, recognizing Jarrett’s contributions to U.S. matters.
Rochon and Richard K. Dozier, dean of the School of Architecture and Construction Science, unveiled a portrait of Taylor.
The Taylor descendents presented the university with a $50,000 gift.
Dozier presented awards to students who have excelled academically throughout their college tenure. He also presented the Robert R. Taylor Legacy Award to three individuals who have contributed to the architectural and construction industries: Charles I. Cassell, Booker Conely and Herman Russell.
Tuskegee Mayor Omar Neal presented Jarrett with the “key to the city” and proclaimed April 9 as “Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science Day.”
Robert Robinson Taylor, who was the first black to graduate with an architecture degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was brought to Tuskegee by the institution’s founder, Booker T. Washington, in 1892. Over four decades, Taylor developed the architecture program and educated many of the country’s pioneer black architects. He designed the buildings, while his staff and students made the bricks and constructed many of the buildings on campus. These include: The Oaks (Booker T. Washington’s home), Dorothy Hall (now a part of the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center), White Hall, Carnegie Hall and Campbell Hall.