Written by Tim Talley
Willimantic, Conn. - Stacey Close, professor of history at Eastern Connecticut State University, will discuss the historical significance of Eastern's hiring the first African American professor in the State of Connecticut as part of Eastern's University Hour series. Close's presentation will be held at 3 p.m. on Feb. 16 in Eastern's Student Center Theatre. The public is invited. Admission is free.
Juliette Phifer Bursterman became the first African American professor in the State of Connecticut when she accepted a job as assistant professor at what was then Willimantic State Teachers College in 1948. In 1959, she was promoted to the rank of full professor and remained at Eastern until her retirement in 1974.
Bursterman received a Bachelor of Science degree from Winston-Salem Teachers College in 1929 and her Master of Arts in Education in 1933 from the Teachers College of Columbia University in New York City. During the 1933-34 school year, Bursterman taught at the Newbold Training School, which was associated with the State Teachers College in Fayetteville, NC. In the 1934-35 school year, she took leave from the Fayetteville Teachers College to serve as state supervisor of adult education at the Federal Emergency Relief Program in North Carolina. The following year, she returned to the Newbold Training School as principal and remained there until 1946. Bursterman received her doctorate from New York University in 1948.