Martin “Marty” J. Meade, Ph.D., GSAS ’55, ’63, Fordham’s dean of student affairs during some of the most contentious years on Fordham’s campus, died on April 18 in Sun City West, Ariz.
Meade, who began his career at Fordham in 1955, served as dean from 1965 to 1970.
Meade was serving during one of Fordham’s most restless historical periods, the late sixties. On December 4, 1968, nearly a dozen African-American student demonstrators barricaded Meade in his office by propping a desk up against his door. Compared to similar campus demonstrations happening around the country, the demonstration was “quick and orderly,” wrote The New York Times, noting that “one solidly built Negro youth . . . stood before the inside door” demanding that demonstrators use ashtrays and not put cigarette ashes on the floor.
That “solidly built youth,” Quinton Wilkes, Ph.D., GSAS ’69, ’77, recalled that the demonstration also received coverage in Time magazine. Although dubbed a “militant action,” Wilkes said that two of the student leaders had actually made an appointment to speak with Meade, who had always said he was never held against his will.
The group demanded that the Meade sign a document urging the University to not to cut off Federal aid to black students who protest peacefully. Other demands emerged in the days that followed, including the implementation of an African-American studies curriculum. One year later the Institute for African American Studies was launched; it later became the Department of African and African American Studies.
“Marty Meade was very instrumental in developing the institute, and I think that says a lot about his character,” said Wilkes.
Joseph J. McGowan, Ph.D., president of Bellarmine University and one of Meade’s former assistant deans, recalled Meade as someone who saw himself as an advocate for students, even if their confrontational politics remained somewhat foreign to him.
McGowan said when he arrived on campus the relationship between African-American students and Meade was “exemplary.” But the late 1960s and early 1970s remained a time of high stress and suspicion.
“I met more FBI, Justice Department, and Secret Service detectives than I met faculty,” McGowan said of the period. “I was glad to help students and Dr. Meade, [even though]that was not what I signed up for.”
Meade was born to working-class parents on August 31, 1931 in Philadelphia. He attended West Catholic High School and St. Joseph’s University, where he graduated in 1953. He later studied at Fordham under Anne Anastasi, Ph.D., the world-renowned psychologist.
Meade’s wife Nancy S. Hawley, Ph.D., said Meade was spiritually and intellectually interested in “different views, socio-economic roots, and cultural opportunities.” She added that his blue-collar Philadelphia roots made his Bronx experience resonate.
“The Bronx was not affluent and people certainly were struggling,” she said. “But he liked the culture. He interacted with everyone and felt that he learned a lot from them.”
“He was just a good man and a very serious Catholic in the deepest sense,” he said. “Those [student]demonstrations were handled in a different way not just because of the humanity of Meade, but because he was part of a larger tradition that respects the dignity and value of human beings.”
Meade is survived by Hawley, five children, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.