University of Alabama building named for Stillman alumnus

A black man poses for a portrait indoors
Stillman College alumnus Archie Wade.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Stillman College baseball and basketball standout Dr. Archie Wade holds many distinctions across athletics and academia.

The Tuscaloosa native was a starter in a record-breaking 29-inning minor league baseball game in 1966. He also played for legendary baseball manager Sparky Anderson before spending two years as a recruiter for University of Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.

But it’s Wade’s role in desegregating the faculty ranks at UA that left the greatest mark at the cross-town institution and Tuscaloosa community. Wade was the first Black faculty member at UA, where he taught kinesiology for 30 years before retiring in 2000.

Now, his contributions to UA and for Black scholarship will be immortalized with one of the highest honors bestowed on a college campus: a named building. Moore Hall, which houses the department of kinesiology at UA, will be renamed “Archie Wade Hall,” the UA System Board of Trustees approved recently.

“Although Dr. Wade would never describe himself as a trailblazer, he became the first African American faculty member here at the University in 1970,” UA trustee John England, Jr. told the Crimson White. “This bold move, on his part, paved the way for the integration of minority faculty members across our system.”

The Crimson White also reported that the renaming is one of several across campus to align with the system’s “shared values: integrity, leadership, accountability, diversity, inclusion and respect,” England said.

Wade, who also served on Stillman’s faculty, was previously honored during UA’s “Through the Doors” activities in 2013, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of integration at UA. He received a plaque for his contributions to campus. That plaque is displayed in a conference room in Archie Wade Hall.

“When it’s all happening, you don’t think about the full implications and the impact it’ll have later,” Wade said then.

“Maybe I was the right type person for this to happen to. The timing (of my hire) was great, the opportunity was there, and I took advantage of it. That’s the way I’ve always been – I gave my all. That is what I got from athletics.”

Dr. Matt Curtner-Smith, professor of kinesiology at UA, worked with Wade and co-authored “Legacy of a Pioneer African American Educator,” a paper that reconstructs Wade’s contributions. Curtner-Smith said Wade’s legacy was evident when he began working at UA.

“His story is obviously interesting and historically significant,” Curtner-Smith said in 2013. “However, on top of this, as an inexperienced assistant professor in the early 1990s, I was also struck by the incredible respect all our students had for him. They really did revere him. Having witnessed his induction into the YMCA Hall of Fame a year or so ago, I saw the same kind of affection for him among his local community. He really is one of those people about whom you do not hear a bad word.”