James E. Cheek
Ronald Reagan and James E. Cheek.jpg
Cheek with Ronald Reagan in 1981
James Edward Cheek

(1932-12-04)December 4, 1932
DiedJanuary 8, 2010(2010-01-08) (aged 77)
Occupationeducator, scholar, theologian, public speaker, humanitarian
Years active1958–2010
Spouse(s)Celestine (m. 1958)
AwardsPresidential Medal of Freedom

James Edward Cheek (December 4, 1932 – January 8, 2010)[1] was president emeritus of Howard University. He was born in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina.

Howard University President (1968–1989)

In 1989, Cheek appointed Republican National Committee Chairman Lee Atwater as a member of the Howard University Board of Trustees. Students rose up in protest against Atwater's appointment, disrupting Howard's 122nd anniversary celebrations, and eventually occupied the university's administration building.[2] Within days, both Atwater and Cheek resigned.

Personal life

Cheek was married to the former Celestine Williams, and had two children. He died on January 8, 2010, from complications of coronary artery disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


  1. ^ Martin, Douglas (January 21, 2010). "James E. Cheek, Forceful University President, Dies at 77". The New York Times. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  2. ^ Stanley, Alessandra; Jacob V. Lamar (March 20, 1989). "Saying No to Lee Atwater". Time.com. Time Warner. Archived from the original on November 6, 2007.