Hilda Richards Bio from Teachers College Columbia University Repeatedly breaking the color line made Hilda Richards even more passionate about helping others to learn. Hilda Richards“You meet life’s challenges with a deep breath and move forward,” says Hilda Richards (Ed.D. ’76, M.Ed. ’65). As a young woman, Richards was informed by St. John’s School of Nursing in St. Louis that she could attend only by saying she was Hispanic rather than African American. Instead, Richards transferred in after two years of high academic achievement, becoming the school’s first black graduate. She subsequently earned five degrees from four universities and capped a trailblazing career as Chancellor of Indiana University Northwest.
“When you fight for what you want, you become passionate,” says Richards, now 79.
Richards earned her M.Ed. in Nursing Education from TC, which she chose for its academic excellence and racial diversity. “I so loved my time at TC that I returned nearly a decade later for my doctorate,” she says. In between, she helped to open City Hospital’s psychiatric unit and Harlem Rehabilitation Hospital. Back at TC, she worked full time at CUNY’s Medgar Evers College. Eventually she was appointed associate dean and designed the school’s nursing program. She later became Ohio University’s first black, female academic dean and then Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, at both institutions hiring more women and people of color as faculty and administrators. She was a board member of The Virginia Satir Global Network.
Before retiring in the early 2000s, Richards served as the National Black Nurses Association’s President and Journal Editor. Today she’s on the board of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and an active hospice volunteer. “Education is among the greatest things you can achieve,” she says. “It’s important to give back to others who pursue it.” — KELSEY ROGALEWICZ