Cleveland Donald Jr., Former Director of Waterbury Campus, Dies

A candle burning.

Cleveland Donald Jr., former director of UConn’s Waterbury Campus, died Jan. 26 of natural causes at his home in New Milford, Conn. He was 65.

Donald was known nationally as the second black graduate of the University of Mississippi, who also started a black studies program at the college.

Born in Newton, Miss., Donald attended Tougaloo College in Jackson for a year, where he became involved in the civil rights movement. He enrolled at Ole Miss in 1964 and graduated in 1966 with a history degree. He later earned a doctorate from Cornell University.

Donald entered Ole Miss under a federal protection order, two years after James Meredith became the first African American to enroll. Donald was instructed not to engage in civil rights activities while he was a student.

In a 2010 interview with The Associated Press, Donald said, “[Meredith] went, I think, to break down the barriers, and I sort of saw as my goal, my purpose was to show that we could succeed after the doors had been opened, and that some kinds of fellowship could be established to just keep the doors open and to make sure that we were moving at another level.”

Donald returned to Ole Miss in 1978 to help the university establish a black studies program.

During his career, Donald was a professor at the University of Texas, the State University of New York, the University of Massachusetts, where he was vice chancellor, and UConn, where he served as director of its Waterbury campus. He was also an ordained minister.

Funeral services will be held in Jackson, Miss., on Saturday, Feb. 4, followed by the burial in Newton, Miss.