SPC Honors Dr. Clarence Windzell Norris with Legacy Day event Aug. 18

August 15, 2022

Marketing & Strategic Communications

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(NOTE: Dr. Clarence Windzell Norris was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.)

Legacy Day at St. Philip’s College celebrates the college’s past, present and future with six events, including an oak tree dedication, unveiling of Saint Philip’s Way and the ribbon cutting on new buildings, including the Clarence Windzell Norris Building.

The Vocational and Technical building was constructed in 1969 with three floors. A fourth floor was added in 1972. The building was dedicated in 1975 in honor of Dr. Clarence W. Norris, Dean Emeritus.

In 1996, the then Norris Technical Building underwent an extensive renovation that was made possible through a bond passed by Bexar County voters. The 2017 renovation took the building back to its walls. The light-filled, red brick building is almost unrecognizable today. 

As the college expanded, vocational and technical programs moved out into other areas on the MLK and Southwest Campuses. The name of the building no longer reflected its current use, so it was changed in 2020 to the Clarence Windzell Norris Building.

Dr. Clarence Windzell Norris, the son of Rev. Eddruit and Lenora Bell Norris, grew up in Houston’s Fifth Ward. He graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in 1928.

He went on to the University of Michigan, where he earned bachelors and master’s degrees.

In the 1930s, he taught simultaneously at Bishop College and Wiley College -- both historically black colleges located in Marshall, Texas.  Norris later taught sociology at Houston Junior College for Negroes, now Texas Southern University.

Dr. Norris took a string of low-paying jobs during the Depression, alternating between teaching and social work. He ended the decade working for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in adult education.

Artemisia Bowden handpicked Dr. Norris in 1943 to be her successor. She sent him a letter, including, “I urge your prayerful consideration in this matter, for somehow, I feel that the future of the institution may be affected by your decision.”

Dr. Norris accepted the position with the understanding that he would travel every summer to complete his doctorate degree at the University of Southern California.

At St. Philip’s, Dr. Norris served as Assistant Dean, then Dean of Faculty under Miss Bowden. He taught education, Spanish and sociology. He led as Dean of College from 1954 to 1969.

As Dean of the college, Dr. Norris led St. Philip’s through the separation from the San Antonio Board of Education, now SAISD, and the creation of a junior college district with San Antonio College, known today as the Alamo Colleges District.

He recruited black students to attend St. Philip’s from surrounding counties, but only saw modest growth. It was the end of segregation and the GI Bill that caused a boom in enrollment and led to a demographic change in the predominantly African American, female student body.

The end of segregation in schools in 1955 did not impact a change in Dr. Norris’ title as Dean, under the San Antonio College President. He was not given the title of President – an accurate reflection of the work he and his predecessor, Artemisia Bowden, did for the college.

After stepping down, Dr. Norris served as a faculty member and was named a Piper Professor in 1970 by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation. In 1974, he was named Dean Emeritus.

During his 50 years in San Antonio, Dr. Norris volunteered in a variety of positions, including the Chamber of Commerce and the Advisory Board of Baptist Hospital. 

He was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and a life member of the University of Michigan Alumni Association.

In 2020, he was posthumously named President Emeritus by Alamo Colleges District Board of Trustees.

Dr. Norris and his wife, Lucille, a teacher, were married for 64 years and were blessed with two sons, the late Clarence W. Norris, Jr., and Trusse Rupert Norris.

Legacy Day Events:

Oak Tree Dedication in Honor of Col. Roy W. Burley, 7:30 a.m.
Ribbon Cutting for Saint Artemisia Bowden Building, 8 a.m.
Ribbon Cutting for Clarence W. Norris Building, 9 a.m.
Ribbon Cutting for William A. Hudgins Health and Wellness Building, 10 a.m.
Unveiling of Saint Philips Way, 11:15 a.m.
Ribbon Cutting for Tourism, Hospitality and Culinary Arts Building, 11:30 a.m.

For more information about Legacy Day, visit alamo.edu/spc/legacy-day.

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