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Charlotte Ruth Wright Hayre

1949 Ph.D. Graduate
Dissertation Advisor(s): John Cooper Mendenhall
"Samuel Jackson Pratt, Novelist and Poet (1747-1814)"

DR. RUTH WRIGHT HAYRE (October 26, 1910-January 30, 1999), born in Atlanta, GA, was a prominent African American figure who served her community in a variety of capacities, including as an archivist, philanthropist, administrator, and educator.    Dr. Hayre, the daughter of Bishop Richard Robert Wright, Jr., held multiple higher-education degrees from the University of Pennsylvania (B.A., 1930; A.M., 1931; Ph.D., 1949; L.L.D., honorary, 1989).   Inspired by her brief position as a teacher at West Philadelphia High School for Girls, Hayre decided to help bring about educational advancement among African Americans, who faced considerable discrimination and poverty.  She taught at several institutions, including, beginning in 1930, Arkansas State College for Negroes, a.k.a. Arkansas Agricultural and Mechanical College, where she met Talmadge Hayre, another instructor; Ruth Wright and Talmadge Hayre were married in 1937.   Dr. Hayre also served as briefly as the principal of Arkansas State College before becoming “Philadelphia’s first African American senior high school teacher” in 1946.  Hayre became vice principal of William Penn (girls’) High School in 1953 and principal in 1955, both “firsts” for an African American in Philadelphia.   In 1963, Hayre became the first African American public school superintendent; she retired in 1976, but accepted an appointment to the Philadelphia Board of Education nine years later.   In addition, Hayre founded the Tell Them We are Rising Fund, a philanthropic foundation, at Temple University in 1988.[1]