Penn State Intercom......October 31, 2002

University honors first
African-American graduate

Descendants of the first African-American graduate of Penn State, Calvin H. Waller, visited University Park on Oct. 24 to learn more about the scholarship program co-named in his honor and to accept recognition for his achievements and those of his grandson, the late Lt. Gen. Calvin A.H. Waller.

The Penn State Army ROTC coordinated the campus visit for Karla Albert, granddaughter of Calvin H. Waller and sister of Lt. Gen. Waller; Marion Waller, widow of Lt. Gen. Waller; and great-grandchildren: Mike Waller, Mark and Traci Waller with children Calvin J. and Hannah; Walton Waller; and Tonya Bessilieu and her daughter, Danielle.

Calvin H. Waller is considered the University's first African-American graduate, although there are no official records from that time to indicate students' racial identities. Born in Macon, Ga., in 1880, he earned a bachelor of science in agriculture in 1905. While at the University, he distinguished himself as an accomplished vocalist, quarterbacked the football team and was associate editor for the campus yearbook, La Vie.

During the morning, the Office of Student Aid was host for a presentation about the Bunton-Waller Scholarship and Fellows Program, jointly named for Waller and Mildred S. Bunton, the first female African-American graduate. The program provides financial support to undergraduate students with high academic performance and who contribute to the ethnic, cultural or socio-economic diversity of the student body.

Terrell Jones, vice provost for educational equity, gave a brief history of the program and explained how the scholarship program is supplemented by The Pennypacker Experience, a scholarly and diverse living/learning community. First-year Bunton-Waller students are housed together in Pennypacker Hall, along with students from the FISE (First Year in Science and Engineering) program, creating one of the most culturally diverse residence halls on campus.

The Waller family also were guests at the Penn State Army ROTC's 85th anniversary celebration. The Army ROTC honored Waller and his grandson, the late Lt. Gen. Calvin A. H. Waller, himself a pioneer in paving the way for many African-American Army officers. Lt. Gen. Waller held a major leadership role as Deputy Commander-in-Chief for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf War in 1990 and died in 1996.