The Carnegie Scholars
- Nicole A. Cooke
From 1970-1972 the Graduate School of Library Science at the University of Illinois (now the School of Information Sciences) welcomed and educated twenty-eight students of color known as The Carnegie Scholars. Spearheaded by faculty member Dr. Terry Crowley, he described the Carnegie Scholars program as “an unusual, flawed, but ultimately successful program to increase the number of disadvantaged students, primarily black and Hispanic” in the profession. Students recruited to this program went on to become successful leaders in the field of library and information science (LIS) and in the corporate and government sectors.
The Carnegie program, funded by the Carnegie Corporation in New York and the United States Department of Education, was a direct outgrowth of the momentum and initiatives at the University of Illinois to increase the numbers of minority students on campus. After the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, there were very few minority students enrolled at the university. In 1967 only 372 black undergraduates attended the University of Illinois, out of 30,400 students. In an initiative entitled “Project 500”, the University recruited and admitted more than 500 Black and Latinos students by 1968 (Wellburn 2010). The School recognized the need to further diversify the ranks of its graduate program and the ranks of the profession. However successful the program, not since that time has the School enrolled and matriculated as many students of color at one time as when the Carnegie Scholars were in residence (personal communication with Dr. Linda C. Smith, August 3, 2014).
This research project was initiated to investigate this under-publicized part of the School's history and see what, if any, insight the Carnegie Scholars Program might provide about the state of recruiting and retaining students of color in graduate LIS program. The implications are important not only for the School, but for the profession at large. Currently, the research consists of three main sources of data, the University of Illinois’ archives and interviews with the Carnegie Scholars, and archives from the Carnegie Corporation of New York (housed at Columbia University).