In Memoriam: Remembering Ike Tribble (1940-2003): A Legacy of GivingNo one accomplishes things in this life, be they big or small, without the timely intervention of others.
Back in 1984, during the first year that Black Issues In Higher Education was being published, the future of this magazine was very much in doubt. The political leadership was making a determined effort to eliminate affirmative action and the very thought of a publication about Black and minority issues in higher education that would be read by the entire higher education community was given token support if at all.
Then along came Dr. Israel “Ike” Tribble, who placed the first full-page advertisement in this fledgling publication. That bold move gave us the vote of confidence that we sorely needed and sent a clear message to the entire higher education community that we were worthy of more than token support.
To the thousands of you whose lives were touched by Tribble, that story doesn’t surprise you. You also know that his life was a testament to self-sacrificing concern for the well-being of others, especially in the field of graduate education. He gave a vote of confidence to just about everyone that he came into contact with.
Tribble had been trained at some of the best institutions in America, including receiving a doctorate from Stanford and was ready to fulfill his life-long dream of becoming a college president. When the opportunity came along to lead the McKnight Foundation’s effort to help minorities earn terminal degrees, he characteristically put his own aspirations on hold in order to help hundreds of young African Americans and other minorities earn their degrees. And in so doing, he is owed a tremendous debt by the state of Florida and the nation. He attacked the challenge with an enthusiastic tenacity that made the McKnight program, now called the Florida Education Fund, the model for others to follow. He set the highest standards of uncompromised expectations and excellence. The image of Tribble running from one airport to another, working the phones and speaking at a myriad of conferences all with the singular purpose of identifying minority students to enroll in graduate schools is an image that we best not forget.
As direction and guidance is sought after in a post-Michigan decision environment, those truly concerned with expanding opportunity would do well to study the methodologies and practices employed by Ike Tribble. And what greater tribute can be given than to mimic him. He could never be replaced, but knowing him, he would probably say with that infectious smile and warm and welcoming personality that was uniquely his, “Just do your best — not for yourself but for someone else.”
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