TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama officially dedicated Wade Hall in honor of Dr. Archie Wade, the first Black faculty member at the Capstone, during a ceremony Nov. 3.
In 1970, Wade became the first Black faculty member at UA and worked in the department of kinesiology for 30 years. During that time, he earned his doctorate from UA, achieved the status of tenured professor, and was a founding member of the Black Faculty and Staff Association.
“Throughout my career I had peaks and valleys, and of all the things that happened to me, yesterday was the peak of my association with the University,” said Wade. “To look at the building where I worked for 30 years and to see it bear my name and my family’s name — there is no higher peak than that. It stands as a testimony not only to me, but to my entire family and our name. The University of Alabama is a great university and I really enjoyed my time — not just with the faculty, but also with the students, many of whom I still have contact with today.”
Outside the classroom, Wade played a pivotal role in the integration of the UA football program. In September 1964, he was one of three Black spectators to integrate the stands of former Denny Stadium on the UA campus. Several years later, he was instrumental in assisting legendary Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant in recruiting some of the first Black student-athletes to the football program.
“Dr. Wade’s contributions to UA, the Tuscaloosa community and to the field of education will always be celebrated on our campus and Wade Hall will stand as a testament to those contributions,” said UA President Stuart R. Bell. “This well-deserved honor serves as a tribute to Dr. Wade’s legendary career, and I know that this building will also be a source of inspiration for generations to come.”
On Sept. 17, The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees unanimously voted to change the name of the former Moore Hall, home of UA’s Department of Kinesiology, to Wade Hall. The name change was recommended by the Board’s Building Names Working Group, which was convened in June 2020 to conduct a comprehensive review of named buildings, structures and spaces on UA System campuses relative to the System’s Shared Values: integrity, leadership, accountability, diversity, inclusion and respect.
The campus community — including the Black Faculty and Staff Association, College of Education, department of kinesiology, and several individual faculty, staff and students — advocated for the building to be named in recognition of Wade’s contributions to the University.
“Naming Wade Hall in honor of Dr. Archie Wade, The University of Alabama’s ‘Jackie Robinson,’ was one of the proudest moments of my decades-long tenure on the Board of Trustees,” said Judge John H. England Jr., trustee emeritus and chair of the Building Names Working Group. “Dr. Wade is a man of character, courage and conviction. He showed a great deal of bravery when he took the first step to integrate the faculty at UA — an act that transformed the University and paved the way for integration of minority faculty members across the entire UA System.”
In 2013, during the 50th anniversary celebration of the integration of the University, a plaque honoring Wade was placed in the building that now bears his name.
Before joining UA, Wade attended Stillman College on an athletic scholarship and graduated in 1962. He later earned his master’s degree in physical education and business from West Virginia University. Wade also played several seasons of minor league baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals organization and had the highest batting average in the Class A Florida League in 1966.
The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.