Towson University breaks ground on NPHC Tribute Walkway

By Kyle Hobstetter on June 30, 2022

Walkway will honor TU’s nine historically Black fraternities and sororities

The NPHC Walkway Groundbreaking
Representatives of Towson University’s historically Black fraternities and sororities join President Kim Schatzel and Dr. Julius Chapman, TU’s first dean of minority affairs, to officially launch a physical tribute to the NPHC with a ground breaking ceremony. (Lauren Castellana / Towson University) 

Towson University officially broke ground Thursday on a project that will honor members of its historically Black fraternities and sororities in the heart of TU’s campus.

Now under construction on the Dr. Julius Chapman Quadrangle, which was dedicated to Chapman in October 2021, the physical tribute will honor all nine chapters of TU’s  National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) organizations with a brick walkway lined with nine brick pillars.

The pillars will be topped with plaques featuring full-color crests, mottos and founding dates for each of the NPHC sororities and fraternities. And on the front of each pillar will be a plaque listing each chapter’s charter members.

The project is expected to be completed this fall, with a special dedication scheduled during homecoming weekend on October 22.  

Representatives of Towson University’s historically Black fraternities and sororities joined President Kim Schatzel and Dr. Julius Chapman, TU’s first dean of minority affairs, to officially launch the project with a ground breaking ceremony.

“We are proud to break ground on a new walkway that will serve as an important and fitting tribute to TU’s historically Black fraternities and sororities that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council,” Schatzel said. “Located in the Chapman Quad, named in honor of Dr. Julius Chapman, TU’s first dean of minority affairs, the walkway will recognize the historic legacy of these organizations as champions for racial equity on our campus.”

The physical tribute is the first of its kind from a Maryland university, and is largely funded through donations.

The project’s fundraising goal was one of the swiftest-met at Towson University, driven by over 550 individual donations from members of the NPHC and TU community.

Leading the way with over 150 donations is Towson University’s Mu Mu Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority. Representing them in the ground breaking was alumna Alberta Brier ’77.

As she spent the sunny, summer morning catching up with friends from not only her sorority, but other members of the NPHC, she’s couldn’t help but express her excitement for this tribute to be part of Towson University’s campus.

“The occasion is just awesome, because [TU’s campus] is so vastly different from when the NPHC started,” Brier said. “It’s just wonderful because you don’t see these types of things on predominately white campuses. So, this is something that our minority students here at TU can gravitate to, recognize and see our presence on campus.”

Members of NPHC organizations pose with President Schatzel and Dr. Julius Chapman
Members of several NPHC organizations pose with President Schatzel and Dr. Julius Chapman during Thursday's groundbreaking ceremony. (Lauren Castellana / Towson University) 

Behind an effort from Chapman, Towson University welcomed their first NPHC chapters to campus just over 50 years ago. And before Chapman started in 1968, Black student enrollment was less than 1% of the total student population.

Today, Towson University enrolls and graduates the second-largest population of minority students of any university in the state. The 2021 Towson University incoming first-year class was the most diverse in school history, with 59% identifying as a racial or ethnic minority — with TU’s diversity now nearly identical to that of the State of Maryland, which is one of the first majority minority states on the East Coast.

Honoring the nine NPHC fraternities and sororities further is part of TU’s university-wide commitment and ongoing effort to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of the community to thrive. This university priority is guided by a Diversity Strategic Plan, and supported by resources such as the Center for Student Diversity, Student Success Programs, Accessibility & Disability Services and Fraternity & Sorority Life, who continue to support the ongoing development of TU's NPHC chapters. 

The NPHC tribute also connects alums with the TU-wide efforts to establish a culture of philanthropy, which directly support RISE, the campaign for Towson University. The campaign is more than 85% to its ambitious $100 million goal, largely supported by small donations from TU’s community that go to support initiatives the donors are passionate about supporting.

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During the ceremony, Brier watched orientation tours walk past the quad. She remembered taking her daughter on a tour of campus, where they didn’t see any minority students.

Now, as she sees a more diverse campus, Brier couldn’t help but credit the vision of not only the work of Chapman, but also her fellow NPHC alums.

“Dean Chapman is just so significant, and all the stories we tell, he’s the connection,” Brier said. “Words can’t express how humbling [the tribute] is. As these students walk past, I hope this becomes part of the tour, because this is important.”