History professor named to ‘Men of Excellence’ list


Courtesy of Oakland University

History professor De Witt Dykes receives the Michigan Chronicle’s “Men of Excellence” award, which recognizes local African American men who inspire others through their work.

History professor De Witt Dykes has recently been recognized for the “Men of Excellence” award, given by The Michigan Chronicle.

“It’s an honor, and I’m certainly happy to receive it,” Dykes said. “It’s occasionally nice that someone says you’re doing a good job.”

The Michigan Chronicle’s “Men of Excellence” award recognizes local African American men who have inspired others through their work and the community service.

This year’s 50 new honorees will add to the over 600 professionals who have already received the award. This new group was inducted Friday, August 2 at the Motor City Casino Hotel.

Dykes, who is celebrating 50 years at Oakland University this summer, said that of all of his achievements, the success of the students that have taken his classes and gotten something of merit out of them is his greatest.

“I’ve taken pride in the fact that a number of my students have done well and moved on to various kinds of professions,” Dykes said.

Vice President for Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer Glenn McIntosh called Dykes “one of the most charismatic, passionate and committed faculty members” he has met in his career.

“He’s very engaged when it comes to students and he always seems to go the extra mile to make sure that students are successful and that they learn, not only history, but history in the context of today’s society and how it applies,” McIntosh said.

Other than being a history professor, Dykes co-founded the Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society — of which he served as its first president for six years — as well as the Michigan Black Network and the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society. He was also a board member in the Detroit Historical Museum and the Historical Society of Michigan.

“Our goal was not to have history merely be something for students who go to school at the college level, but to spread it to the public, many of whom didn’t receive it when they were in school or who are interested enough to try to go beyond what they learned earlier,” Dykes said about the organizations.

McIntosh said it’s important to recognize those, such as Dykes, who go above and beyond the call of duty in the service of others. He said his body of knowledge has really been extended to everybody within his community, serving all types of individuals.

“His compassion for people always lends itself to really helping the person discover themselves, and then help them discover what’s next for them,” McIntosh said. “He is a jewel in the community and we’re very fortunate to have him.”

Dykes said he is still active and hopes to not only continue researching and publishing works of significance, but “to just keep going for another few years.”

“This is a person who has been dedicated to teaching for so many years, really half a century, and he’s still going strong with no signs that he’s ready to stop teaching and making a difference,” McIntosh said. “I want to have that much energy when I’m his age.”