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Office of University Communications

Kerry-Ann Hamilton
Media Relations Manager

Howard to Honor President Emeritus James E. Cheek

WASHINGTON (March 23, 2010) - Howard University will host a memorial service in honor of President Emeritus James E. Cheek in the Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 26. Dr. Cheek died on Jan. 8 in a hospital in Greensboro, N.C. The memorial service was postponed due to the severe snowstorms in the Washington Metropolitan area.

Dr. Cheek is the recipient of 19 honorary degrees and hundreds of awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. During his presidency from 1969 to 1989 he oversaw a dramatic increase in the number of schools, colleges, research programs, full-time faculty and Ph.D. programs at HU. Also, student population increased by 6,000 and the university’s budget grew from
$43 million to $417 million as the federal appropriation expanded from $29 million to $178 million.

He was born in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., on Dec. 4, 1932, and despite suffering from severe cataracts, he was an honor student at Washington Street Grammar School.
He graduated from Immanuel Lutheran College with a secondary diploma in 1950 and the following year served in the Korean War with the United States Air Force.

Among his many accomplishments while serving as HU president, the University founded WHMM, at the time, the nation's only black-owned public broadcasting station. It also built Howard University Hospital, established a School of Business, created WHUR radio station and bought land in northeast and northwest Washington onto which it relocated and expanded its School of Divinity and the School of Law.

Dr. Cheek was appointed by U.S. presidents to the Board of Foreign Scholarships, National Advisory Council to the Peace Corps, UNESCO, the Commission on Selection of White House Fellows and the President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

He is survived by his wife, Celestine, a son, James E. Cheek Jr., a screenwriter and director, and a daughter, Janet E. Cheek, a physician, and four grandchildren.

If you are interested in covering the memorial, please email


Related Features

News Room
January 8, 2010
Howard University President Emeritus James Cheek Dies

Office of the President
January 8, 2010
Letter re. President Emeritus Cheek's Passing

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