This is a list of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania alumni by class year:


Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Octavius Catto 1858 Catto was the class valedictorian in 1858 at the Institute for Colored Youth (later Cheyney University). An activist, Catto was influential in getting the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution passed in 1870 which gave black men (but not black women) the right to vote. Catto is also the founder of the first black baseball team in the United States (The Philadelphia Pythians, 1867) and an early member of the National Equal Rights League (Oct. 1864).
Martha A. Fairbeau (Minton) 1859 First female graduate.
Joseph E. Lee ca. 1863 Graduated from the Institute for Colored Youth (presently Cheyney University) in the early 1860s and received law degree from Howard University in 1873. He was admitted to The Florida Bar that year and was one of the first black people to practice law in Florida. He was a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 1875-1880 and the Florida Senate from 1881-82.[1]
Rebecca J. Cole 1863 Graduated from the Institute for Colored Youth in 1863 (now Cheyney University). She graduated from Women's Medical College (now the Drexel University College of Medicine) in 1867 with a medical degree. Cole was the second African-American woman physician in the United States and the first black woman to graduate from the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania.
James B. Dudley ca. 1870 Graduated from the Institute for Colored Youth around 1875 (now Cheyney University). For college Dudley attended Shaw College in Raleigh, North Carolina. Throughout his education he focused on learning to become an educator. In 1880, at age 21, Dudley passed the North Carolina state exam required to obtain a teacher's certificate. Later he attended Harvard summer school and gained an M.A. from Livingstone College and an LL.D. from Wilberforce University. Dudley became President of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 1896 and held that position until his death in 1925.[2]
Josephine Silone Yates pre-1877 African American writer, teacher, and civil rights advocate whose primary education was at the Institute for Colored Youth (now Cheyney University).[3]
Julian Abele ca. 1896 Prominent African-American architect. Upon Abele's graduation in 1902 as the first black student in architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, Abele designed or contributed to the design of some 250 buildings, including Harvard’s Widener Memorial Library, Duke University, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Free Library of Philadelphia, and many Gilded Age mansions in Newport and New York City.[4]
Bayard Rustin ca. 1937 Openly gay African-American civil rights activist
S. Howard Woodson ca. 1938 First African-American to serve as Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly since Reconstruction.[5]
Marcus Foster 1947 African-American educator who gained a national reputation for educational excellence while serving as principal of Gratz High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as Associate Superintendent of Schools in Philadelphia, and as the first black Superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District in Oakland, California
Joseph M. Segars ca. 1959 U.S. Ambassador to Cape Verde in 1996[6]
Robert L. Woodson Sr. 1962 Civil rights activist, community development leader, author, National Urban League director, "Genius Grant" winner, founder and president of the Woodson Center that supports neighborhood-based initiatives to revitalize low-income communities, who holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Pennsylvania[7]
Gladys Styles Johnston 1963 Chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Kearney.[8]
Ed Bradley 1964 Former CBS News journalist of the program 60 Minutes
Jim Vance 1964 Emmy Award-winning anchorman. Vance was inducted into the Journalists Hall of Fame.
William "Billy" Joe 1970 Coach Joe won 237 career games in 31 years of coaching at Cheyney (1972-1978), Central State of Ohio and FAMU, trailing only legendary Eddie Robinson of Grambling State in black-college football wins (408). He was the Pennsylvania State Conference Coach of the Year in 1978. Coach Joe was also the running backs coach for the Philadelphia Eagles (1979-80). He helped mentor the Eagles to the 1980 Super Bowl. Coach Joe was also AFL Rookie of the Year with the Denver Broncos in 1963, and he was a member of New York Jets' Super Bowl winning team (1969)
Craig Welburn 1971 His company owns and operates 28 McDonald's restaurants, making it the largest African American owned/owner of these restaurants in the world and puts him in the top one percent of all McDonald's owners
Jim Ellis 1972 The inspiration behind the hit Hollywood movie Pride starring Terrence Howard and Bernie Mac.
Robert Bogle 1973 President/CEO of The Philadelphia Tribune, the oldest black newspaper in circulation today.
Ronald S. Coleman 1973 Lieutenant General, Deputy Commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs for the United States Marine Corps; second three-star general of African-American heritage in the USMC.
Michael Horsey 1975 Former State Representative for the 190th district in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.
Bobby Byars 1976 Became the first football player from Cheyney to be selected in the 1976 NFL draft by the Houston Oilers. After football, Bobby became the Head Men's Basketball Coach at Delaware Community College in Media Pa from 1984 to 1986 where they won PA Junior college championship in 1986. Later that year Bobby became the Head Men's Basketball Coach at Lincoln University from 1986 to 2004 .
Samuel J. Patterson ca. 1982 CEO of Shepard-Patterson & Associates Inc., a systems and information consulting firm, later known as Veridyne, Inc., he was formerly Programmer Analyst at DuPont and Marketing Analyst at IBM, and he holds an Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and awards including "Entrepreneur of the Year" from Ernst & Young[9]
Levy Lee Simon ca. 1983 Award-winning playwright.
Andre Waters 1984 Former NFL player
Dave Warren 1986 Talk radio host; has worked at radio stations WCAU, WDAS and WHAT in Philadelphia area.[10]
Randy Monroe 1987 Member of the Cheyney University Athletic Hall of Fame; current head coach of University of Maryland, Baltimore County men's basketball.[11]
Thaddeus Kirkland 1991 State Representative for the 159th district in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.[12]
James "Big Cat" Williams ca. 1991 Former Chicago Bears player 1991-2002. He was an offensive right tackle eleven of his twelve years with the Bears, and played in the Pro Bowl.[13]
Robert Traynham 1996 Openly gay political analyst and television personality on the Comcast Network, formerly an aide to U.S. Senator Republican Rick Santorum and president of the U.S. Senate Press Secretaries Association.
Dominique Curry 2009 Professional NFL player with the St. Louis Rams in 2010.[14] Curry played three seasons of football and ran track and four seasons of basketball receiving his degree in Geographical Information Science in 2009.


  1. ^ Images of Florida's Black History Archived August 28, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Arnett, Ethel Stephens (1973). For Whom Our Public Schools Were Named, Greensboro, North Carolina (first ed.). Piedmont Press. p. 181–191. Archived from the original on 23 April 2021. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  3. ^ "Josephine Silone Yates". Archived from the original on 2014-02-25. Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  4. ^ "Julian Francis Abele Biography - Became First Black Graduate, Designed Harvard Yard Landmark, Portrait Hangs at Duke". Retrieved 2008-03-18.
  5. ^ S. Howard Woodson (Obituary), New York Times.
  6. ^ "Joseph Segars Biography". The HistoryMakers. Retrieved 2014-12-18.
  7. ^ "Robert Woodson Biography". The HistoryMakers. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  8. ^ 345 words. "Gladys Styles Johnston". Archived from the original on 2012-11-05. Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  9. ^ Culpepper, Reggie. "Samuel Patterson". HBCU Connect, LLC. Archived from the original on 23 April 2021. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  10. ^ Interview with Dave Warren and Al Butler of Acres of Diamonds, 2004,
  11. ^ Randy Monroe, UMBC Retrievers.
  12. ^ Thaddeus Kirkland (Democrat), Pennsylvania House of Representatives official website.
  13. ^ Chicago Bears All-Decade Team, February 24, 2010, Windy City Gridiron.
  14. ^ Putting the Special into Special Teams, September 15, 2010. Daily Local News of Chester County.