History Committee Recommendations

The Committee on the History of Salem Academy and College, which includes faculty, staff, student, alumnae, and trustee representation, was formed in the spring of 2017 to review College orientation traditions and to make recommendations about possible discoveries resulting from the research commissioned by the administration into the relationship between the institution and slavery. The committee completed its charge in the spring of 2018. Its final recommendation resulted in the creation of The Commission on Slavery and Its Legacy at Salem Academy and College.

Recommendations Included:

  1. Revise the new student orientation tradition at the College.

    Beginning August 21, 2017, to take place in Salem Square and highlight a broader narrative about Salem’s history. 

  2. Update the information presented in the Single Sisters Museum, including clarifications and corrections, as new information is gathered from on-going archival research.

    Temporary boards are now posted with our best understanding of the historical record. Permanent boards will be installed once the research is complete. An example of the changes: The name of first African American student admitted to Salem in 1785 was Hanna, who was enslaved. This information was confirmed by the research of Dr. Grant McAllister, Associate Professor in the Department of German and Russian at Wake Forest University.

  3. Add language to the Salem yearbook collection of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center.

    The language recognizes the offensive content of some early 20th century yearbooks. Salem also updated the collection to include all available college yearbooks.

  4. Become a member of Universities Studying Slavery, a multi-institutional organization devoted to addressing historical and contemporary issues of race and inequality in higher education as well as the legacy of slavery in the United States. 

    Salem Academy and College officially became a member of USS in the February of 2018. 

  5. To release Dr. McAllister’s report and post it to the Academy website and to the College website:   

  6.  To hold community meetings:

    Dr. Alan Mueller, Assistant Dean of Students for Student Activities, Leadership, and Intercultural Education, and Dr. Shawn Ricks, Interim Assistant Vice President for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Compliance will facilitate a series of meetings to discuss Salem Academy and College’s history with slavery. The community will be advised of the dates and times of those meetings when the schedules have been confirmed.

  7. To fund further research into the relationship of Salem Academy and College and the institution of slavery:

    Further research has been approved, and we are in the process of engaging two researchers who will continue this work. One of the researchers will be College senior Jessi Bowman. We invite any members of our community who have conducted their own research to share their findings with us if they have not already done so, in order for us to obtain the broadest possible understanding of Salem’s story. In addition, we are exploring programs with Old Salem, Inc. and Old Salem’s Hidden Town Project that extend beyond our current relationship.

  8. To maintain membership and regular participation in the Universities Studying Slavery (USS), a consortium of nearly forty institutions of higher education that are examining their own histories with slavery and the implications that those legacies hold for the present day:

    Salem Academy and College will continue its participation in the USS. Salem was recently represented by Michelle Hopkins Lawrence and College seniors Jessi Bowman and Alanna Natanson at the USS conference held at Hollins University. During the conference, they discussed the information that the member institutions have uncovered regarding their histories and effective ways to act on those findings. Jessi Bowman also shared her research from the Salem Academy and College Archives and her work with Old Salem's Hidden Town Project through her presentation, “Salem Female Academy and the Transition from Slavery to Segregation during Reconstruction.”

  9. To appoint a permanent commission to continue this important work:

    We will form a new commission and charge its members with helping to create programming that is most helpful to our community as we learn more about this period of our institutional history.

Committee Members Include:


  • Michelle Hopkins Lawrence, History Teacher, Salem Academy
  • Katherine Knapp Watts, Vice President for Enrollment, Financial Aid, and Communications


  • Krispin Barr, Dean of Students, Salem College,
  • Jessi Bowman, C’18, chair of orientation traditions committee, Salem College
  • Wayne Burkette, Trustee, Salem Academy and College
  • Tina Flowers, Assistant Professor of Accounting, Salem College
  • Gloria Frost, Librarian, Director of Residential Life, Salem Academy
  • Lindsay Cunningham Joyner, Alumna, A’96, C’00
  • Patrice Mitchell, C’89, Trustee, Salem Academy and College
  • Elizabeth Novicki, Director of Libraries, Salem College
  • Betsy Overton, History Teacher, Salem Academy
  • Daniel Prosterman, Associate Professor of History and Race and Ethnicity Studies Coordinator
  • Amy Rio, Chaplain, Salem Academy and College
  • Gwynne Stephens Taylor C’72, Member of the Board of Visitors, Salem Academy and College
  • Mary Lorick Thompson, Interim Head of School, Salem Academy
  • Rosemary Loftus Wheeler, Executive Assistant to the President, Salem Academy and College


  • Shari Dallas, Executive Assistant to the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, Salem College