Biography and History

Educator and advocate of minority education Dr. Carl A. Fields, the first African American to hold a high-ranking position at an Ivy League school, was appointed Assistant Director of Student Aid and then Assistant Dean of the College at Princeton before serving in other leadership positions outside the University. Carl A. Fields was born on June 5, 1919 in Columbus, Ohio to Ralph A. Fields and Queena R. Grayson Fields. He attended St. Johns University on an athletic scholarship and graduated with a B.S. in English and Social Science in 1942. Fields served as a Master Sergeant of the 376th Port Battalion in the United States Army, where he received the Bronze Star for the Battle of Saipan in 1944 before being honorably discharged on February 3, 1946. After the war, Fields earned his Master of Arts degree in Vocational Guidance from New York University in 1950.

Fields came to Princeton University in 1964 as Assistant Director of Student Aid, becoming the first African American to hold a high-ranking position at an Ivy League school. After earning his Ph.D. in Educational Philosophy from Philathea College in 1967 he was promoted to Assistant Dean of the College in 1968. Fields served on various committees at the University, including acting as chairman of the President’s Committee for Human Relations. Throughout his tenure at Princeton Fields began and directed several innovative programs aimed at the retention of African American and other students of color. These included a minority orientation at the beginning of the school year and the Family Sponsors program, which introduced new students to an African American family within the Princeton community. In 1967 Fields helped coordinate the first Negro Undergraduate Conference with the new Association of Black Collegians organization on campus, which brought together black students from forty-one predominately-white universities. Fields also established the Frederick Douglass Award after attending the 1968 commencement exercises, which had the largest number of black students receiving a diploma in the history of the University. The Frederick Douglass Award is given to a student or students who exemplifies dignified behavior and contributed to the advancement of black ideals and the development of the University.

Fields left Princeton for a three-year Ford Foundation Fellowship, during which he served as the Planning Officer at the University of Zambia (UNZA). From 1974-1984 he became the principal partner and founder of the African Technical Educational Consultant Service (ATECS), where he served as a consultant for numerous organizations including the United Methodist Church, the Lilly Endowment, Inc., and the Hastings College of Law. From 1984-1987 Fields became the administrative officer of Riverside Church in New York City and from 1988-1989 was the associate director of the Bishop Tutu Southern African Refugee Scholarship Fund. Fields was an active member and officer of many other organizations throughout his lifetime, including the College Entrance Examination Board and the Association of Black Princeton Alumni (ABPA).

Fields was honored with numerous awards for his advocacy and active involvement in promoting minority education, including the University Service Award from the Association of Black Princeton Alumni in 1985, the President’s Medal from St. John’s University, the Leadership Award from the Princeton University Community House, and the Alumni Council Award at Princeton University in 1996.

Fields married Clarine Mayfield in 1942 and had two children: Carl, born in 1946, and Wayne, born in 1948. Fields married Hedda Lubin Levine on July 3, 1971. Fields passed away on July 20, 1998, at age 79. In 2002 the Third World Center at Princeton University was renamed the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding in his honor.

Source: From the finding aid for AC365

  • Carl A. Fields Papers. 1938-2009 (inclusive), 1960-1998 (bulk).

    Call Number: AC365

    Educator and advocate of minority education Dr. Carl A. Fields, the first African American to hold a high-ranking position at an Ivy League school, was appointed Assistant Director of Student Aid and then Assistant Dean of the College at Princeton before serving in other leadership positions outside the University. The Carl A. Fields Papers consist of correspondence, reports, research material on race relations and minority education, handwritten notes, project proposals, and other papers that document his life and career.

  • Carl A. Fields Papers. 1938-2009 (inclusive), 1960-1998 (bulk).

    Call Number: AC365

    Educator and advocate of minority education Dr. Carl A. Fields, the first African American to hold a high-ranking position at an Ivy League school, was appointed Assistant Director of Student Aid and then Assistant Dean of the College at Princeton before serving in other leadership positions outside the University. The Carl A. Fields Papers consist of correspondence, reports, research material on race relations and minority education, handwritten notes, project proposals, and other papers that document his life and career.