William R. Bennett, previously the Financial Aid Director at Cleveland State University (CSU), discusses his position and how things have changed for African Americans in North East Ohio. He begins by talking about his experiences at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. He recalls that those days, days of segregation, no one confronted the students because they were a major economic driver in the town. After Hampton, Bennett came to Cleveland and pursued a research position at area hospitals like the Cleveland Clinic. Then in 1972, he took the position of Financial Aid Director at CSU and expanded the office from three individuals to over 20. He gives a brief overview of what he did in the office and how the office attempted to spread the word about financial aid. One of the major goals and philosophies of the department surrounded their policy on loans, which they would try not give to students in the first and second year, as to not burden them in case they could not continue.
After Bennett discusses his work with the Financial Aid Office, he talks about the Black Faculty and Staff Organization (BFSO), alongside his perspective on the relative position of African Americans in society. He talks about a dispute that occurred in the late 1980s surrounding the removal of an African American staff-member from CSU. He then uses that to jump into a discussion about where African Americans came from, what they have done, and what he still thinks is left to do. Finally he concludes by talking about how he loved his time at CSU, and he is glad that people are commemorating the 50th anniversary.
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Oral history interviews with select alumni, trustees, faculty, and other friends of Cleveland State University, conducted by staff at the CSU Center for Public History and Digital Humanities in coordination with the Office of the President and Office of Alumni Affairs on the occasion of CSU's 50th anniversary.