Albert W. Gray, left, and Douglas Jones Sr. admire the plaque outside a room in Wofford College’s Burwell Building that was dedicated to the two today (Thursday, May 9). Gray was Wofford’s first African-American student while Jones was the college’s first African-American graduate.
– Wofford College honored its first African-American student and its first African-graduate today (Thursday, May 9) with the dedication of the Gray-Jones Room in the Burwell Building in honor of Albert W. Gray and Douglas Jones Sr.
Located in the main student dining hall building, the large multi-purpose room is adjacent to the Players Corner patio and previously was identified as the Association of African-American Students’ (AAAS) Room. It is used frequently for both college and community events.
A graduate of Spartanburg’s Carver High School, Albert W. Gray entered Wofford as a first-year student in the fall of 1964, just a few months after the board of trustees adopted a policy of admitting qualified students regardless of race. Wofford was the first independent college in South Carolina to take this step.
Gray’s Wofford career was interrupted by service with the Army in Vietnam, but he completed his degree in 1971. He has been a steadfast supporter of his alma mater since graduation, serving on the board of trustees for 12 years.
Douglas Jones Sr., also a Carver graduate, majored in physics at Wofford and graduated in 1969. For many years, he has been a Michelin executive in the South Carolina Upstate. Two of his children – Moneffa Jones-Taylor (class of 1995) and Jarvis Jones (class of 2004) – are Wofford alumni and both attended the dedication ceremony.
Roberta H. Bigger, vice president of student affairs and dean of students, expressed the gratitude of the college to Gray and Jones. “They came and learned with their fellow students in classes and labs, but they were also excellent teachers – they showed Wofford something unique about how to face a challenge and bring about positive change,” she says. “We also honor them for their willingness to come back home to their alma mater and share with us over the course of decades.”