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McMillan, founder of black family conference, dies at 80

by UofL Today last modified Aug 30, 2010 11:54 AM

Joseph McMillan, professor emeritus at the College of Education and Human Development and founder of the National Black Family Conference, died Sunday at his home in Louisville.

He was 80.

A 1950 graduate of Louisville Municipal College, McMillan joined the UofL faculty in 1976 as assistant vice president for academic affairs and minority affairs and professor of education. He served in a number of faculty and administrative posts before his retirement in 1996.

Previously, he had served as an assistant vice president at Michigan State University.

McMillan launched the Black Family Conference, one of the oldest events of its kind, in 1978. The conference, which draws researchers from around the country to discuss issues affecting minority families, continues each March in Louisville.

A member of the Department of Early and Middle Childhood Education, McMillan also worked to enhance the Pan-African studies department in its infancy. He was a mentor to many educators, serving on doctoral committees for more than 50 students.

A respected community leader, McMillan served as chair of the Louisville Urban League and was active in the Rainbow Coalition and the Justice Resource Center.

Following his retirement, he volunteered and mentored children in several elementary schools, including John F. Kennedy and Phyllis Wheatley. McMillan created several programs that public schools still use, including one for fifth-grade students and another to help single parents return to school.

"Dr. McMillan was a committed educator and fighter for the least among us," said UofL President James Ramsey. "He had a firm belief that education is the 'great equalizer' and he worked tirelessly to spread that message. The University of Louisville family will miss him."

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