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Dr. Albert Pryor, who he was and his Impact | By Pilar Betts

Updated: Mar 9, 2021

Dr. Albert Pryor worked at Western New England and left a legacy not many of us are probably aware of. Both Dr. Pryor and his wife Dorothy left their mark through their involvement in the Springfield community.

Dr. Albert Conklin Pryor Jr. was born in Paducah Kentucky, and he always had a passion for education. He didn't have the money for school so he worked and went to school. Dr. Pryor graduated with honors from Lemoyne College in Tennessee where he became a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity and participated in debate. He then began teaching at Kentucky State College where he met his wife Dorothy Jordan, who grew up in Springfield Massachusetts. Albert and Dorothy got married on December 27th, 1947 in Springfield at St. John's Congregational Church. The following year Albert Pryor earned his masters in sociology at the University of Chicago and received his PhD in 1963 from UCONN. In 1966 he began working as a secondary school counselor at Duggan Junior High School, then moved on to a position in Springfield public schools in a special psychological and social services unit. He became the first African American person to be hired as a full time teacher in Springfield publics school.

In 1967 Dr. Pryor was hired as a full time Sociology Professor at WNE . In fact Dr. Pryor created the social work program here at Western New England, while he also hosted a series of professional workshops for social workers. Western New England gives out an award in Dr. Pryor's name called the Albert C. Pryor Jr. Honor Graduate in Social Work Award. Dr. Pryor not only made an impact on the Western New England Campus but also in the Springfield community, he was President of the United Churchmen of Greater Springfield, the Vice President of Council of Churches, a member of the United Church board for world Masters and Launched a Neighborhood Legal Services program for western MA. He also enjoyed Tennis and played twice a week until he was 88 years old. Dr. Pryor passed in 2005.

Dr. Pryor’s wife, Dorothy Pryor also made quite a mark on the Springfield Community. Dorothy Jordan Pryor grew up in Springfield, MA. She graduated from Classical High School and Fisk University with honors and pursued her Masters in English degree at the University of Chicago. She also holds degrees at Springfield College, Howard University and University of Massachusetts. Both her and her husband were professors at Kentucky State. When they moved to Springfield Dorothy worked as an English teacher at Technical High School where she taught for 13 years and then worked at Springfield Technical Community College where she taught black literature and served as an Affirmative action advisor. She was named outstanding faculty member of the year and received 3 Affirmative Equal Employment Action Awards. She retired from teaching in 1982 and then was appointed as Trustee of STCC by the Governor in 1985. She then served as Vice Chair of the Board .To honor Dorothy's 22 years at STCC , STCC renamed their lecture series after her calling it the Dorothy J. Pryor Lecture Series. Dorothy, like her husband, was very involved in the church . Dorothy served as church historian and sang in the choir. Dorothy was also on the board of directors for Springfield Symphony Orchestra and a member of the Springfield Urban League and the NAACP. Unfortunately she passed recently on January 15th 2021.

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