Dillard University’s history in New Orleans covers everything from Jim Crow to Katrina, yet it has remained, through racism and floods, giving a comprehensive liberal arts education no matter the obstacles.
Originally established as two Louisiana sister schools created to address the needs of recently free slaves in 1869, they offered everything from medical to law education to aid in Reconstruction following the Civil War. By 1930, Dillard was chartered to establish one school “to produce graduates who excel, become world leaders, are broadly educated, culturally aware, and concerned with improving the human condition”. Though it faced tremendous fear and conflict from the surrounding white communities, it was eventually created under the compromise of a white President as their first and has managed to flourish in the years since. Today, the school tops lists of Historically African American Colleges (2010 US News and World Report), surviving to teach over 800 students presently and offer consistently high grade education to those who meet the high acceptance guidelines (at least a 2.8 GPA and high SAT/ACT scores).
Though they offer no distance degrees, it does offer online classes (through Blackboard) and utilizes MyDU to allow mobile phone and laptop checkups on everything from their financial aid to class availability, allowing you to register and pay for classes outside of campus. They do however offer 26 majors (reduced from 32 after restructuring their campus in 2010 from 6 divisions to 4 colleges “because divisions… inhibit interdisciplinary work which… colleges should enhance”). Offering a highly publicized education program (looking to revolutionize how teaching is taught in New Orleans and beyond), a respected nursing program (one of the first of its kind in Louisiana), and a research department that encourages students to work with faculty in developing a top notch undergrad project (working at an occupational level to put their education to use) Dillard offers a comprehensive and complete education to students.
The 55 acre campus suffered a major blow both to housing and enrollment due to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, losing campus housing and suffering major damage to several historic buildings. The aforementioned drop in majors was a direct result of the hurricane and although the enrollment has begun to largely recover, the repairs to the historic school continue.
However, the college remains undaunted by past tragedy (in fact, it has become accustomed to such things in its storied history), continually offering a top tier education, constantly evolving education tailored to create graduates who can “meet the competitive demands of…society”. Dillard offers an interracial student body four year degrees, a “two year gateway program” for new students, and is slowly climbing back in to prominence as a major, predominantly African-American school after the tragedy of a few years ago.