Clarence B. Hilberry, 1952- 1965

Clarence B. Hilberry was the fourth president of Wayne State University. A professor of English and dean of administration, Hilberry was appointed acting president of Wayne University when David D. Henry resigned in 1952. After a year-long search, the Detroit Board of Education concluded that Hilberry was the best choice for the position and he was appointed president in 1953. Hilberry was also the first president of Wayne University to have a formal inauguration.

Hilberry oversaw the transformation of Wayne University into one of Michigan's "Big Three" state universities. During his presidency, student enrollment and the university faculty rapidly grew and eighteen new buildings including the McGregor Memorial Conference Center and College of Education were added to the campus. Hilberry's most significant accomplishment occurred in 1956 when the university became a state university and the Detroit Board of Education was replaced as its governing body by a Board of Governors elected by state-wide ballot. In 1959, Wayne State University was given the same constitutional status as The University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

Hilberry retired as president in 1965. Upon his death in 1966, he was considered the one man most responsible for taking a small city college into the ranks of America's leading universities. The Hilberry Theatre is named after him.

Revised September 2003.
Send comments on this site to
Paul Neirink
Direct reference questions to
William LeFevre

Home | Staff | Using| Visiting
Education| Exhibits | Lecture Series | Newsletter | Labor Archives
Audiovisual | Collections| Detroit Urban | Union Archives| WSU