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Bryson, Seymour | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Name: Bryson, Seymour

Historical Note:

Bryson was "one of three African Americans to progress from assistant professor to full professor, the first African American to serve as associate dean of a college and the second of three African American deans" on the Southern Illinois University campus. [] A native of Quincy [Illinois], Bryson is a three-degree alumnus of SIUC, earning his bachelor’s degree in social work in 1959, his master’s in rehabilitation counseling in 1961 and his doctorate in educational psychology in 1972.

Bryson’s tenure at SIUC encompasses numerous faculty and administrative positions", culminating with the position of Associate Chancellor for Diversity from May 1999 until his retirement in August 2008 .  Bryson "served as assistant professor, associate professor and professor at the Rehabilitation Institute; acting coordinator and coordinator of the Developmental Skills Program; and associate dean, acting dean and dean of the College of Human Resources before it was disbanded in the 1990’s. He [was] the campus acting affirmative action officer, special assistant to the president for affirmative action and director of the Center for Basic Skills, now the Center for Academic Success." He served as executive assistant to the chancellor and the president until 1999.

At the time of his retirement, Bryson was "serving in three posts by appointment of the governor. The governor appointed him in 2002 to the Guardianship and Advocacy Commission (he’s currently interim chair), in 2005 to the African American Family Commission and to the State Use Commission in 1983. He previously served two terms on the Department of Rehabilitation Service Advisory Council.

Widely sought as a consultant and with numerous published works to his credit, Bryson has made dozens of presentations at professional meetings. He’s also been active in community service and the University, including serving as president of the Carbondale chapter of the NAACP, member and chair of the Diversifying Faculty Initiative for three years, president of the Jackson County 708 Mental Health Board, and president and member of the board of directors of the Carbondale United Way.

Numerous awards and honors recognize Bryson’s contributions. Winner of the 2007 Senator Emil Jones Mentoring Award, Bryson’s honors also include the Introspect Access Award, the Distinguished Service Award from the Illinois Committee on Black Concerns in Higher Education, the School of Social Work Alumni Achievement Award and the Black Affairs Council Roby Given Award. The Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame inducted Bryson in 1992 and he’s an inductee into the Quincy High School and SIUC Halls of Fame. Bryson is a perennial honoree of Who’s Who Among Black Americans since 1977.

The days of legal segregation and Jim Crow remain vivid memories for Bryson but he proudly notes, 'Even then, SIU was very proactive addressing the principles of diversity and inclusion. I still see evidence today of that principle. Southern was a leader with a national reputation for diversity, particularly racial and ethnic diversity. Although change has come throughout the country, SIUC remains a leader.'"

"A basketball scholarship brought Seymour Bryson to Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 1955. He enjoyed a record-setting playing career and still holds the University’s rebounding record." Bryson was "three-year MVP, two-year team captain and one of the first few African Americans to letter in basketball at SIUC." He also " helped bring at least $50 million in external grants" to Southern Illinois University.

-- excerpts from Christi Mathis, "Seymour Bryson to retire from SIUC Sept. 1" Saluki Times, July 18 2008 <>

Sources: Mathis, Christi  "Seymour Bryson to retire from SIUC Sept. 1" Saluki Times, July 18 2008<>
Note Author: C. Mathis, ed. by L. Broaddus

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