Howard University announced Wednesday that it would rename its College of Fine Arts after late actor and Howard alum Chadwick Boseman.
Following Boseman’s death in August 2020 after a long battle with colon cancer, students at the Washington, D.C., school started a petition to have the fine arts program named after the Black Panther actor, the Washington Post reports.
“We are very excited. This is the right thing to do,” Howard president Wayne A.I. Frederick said in a statement. “Chadwick’s love for Howard University was sincere, and although he did not live to see those plans through to fruition, it is my honor to ensure his legacy lives on.”
Boseman, who served as Howard University’s commencement speaker for the Class of 2018 and received an honorary doctorate from the university, previously agreed to serve on the board of the fine arts college, where he was developing a Master’s Class series for students.
Additionally, Walt Disney Company chairman Bob Iger will help fundraise both an endowment named after the Black Panther star and the construction of a new building on the Howard campus to house the fine arts college, the university’s school of communications, its television and radio stations, and more.
Iger, who also made a personal donation to Howard, said in a statement: “Through [Boseman’s] tremendous example, he inspired millions to overcome adversity, dream big and reach beyond the status quo, and this college named in his honor at his beloved Howard University will provide opportunities for future generations of artists to follow in his footsteps and pursue their dreams.”
The actor’s parents Caroline and Leroy Boseman added in a statement: “His time at Howard University helped shape both the man and the artist that he became, committed to truth, integrity, and a determination to transform the world through the power of storytelling.”
Earlier this year, the soon-to-be Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts named The Cosby Show actress Phylicia Rashad as its dean; Rashad served as a mentor to Boseman during his time at Howard and helped pay for him to attend a summer actor program at Oxford University while he was still a student.
“Unrelenting in his pursuit of excellence, Chadwick was possessed with a passion for inquiry and a determination to tell stories, through acting, writing, and directing, that revealed the beauty and complexity of our human spirit,” Rashad said in a statement.