Dr. Thomas K. Minter, a distinguished scholar and visionary educator who served as Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Education, New York City Deputy Schools Chancellor and Dean of Lehman College, died May 22 at the age of 84.
“Dr. Minter cared deeply about providing an excellent education to the young people of the Bronx, as well as to Lehman students,” said Lehman president Ricardo R. Fernández. “He was a superb and forward-looking administrator who remained focused on his vision and ever optimistic, even in the face of great challenges. His loss will be mourned at Lehman and throughout the entire educational community.”
A Bronx native, Dr. Minter began his career as a teacher in New York City’s public schools and subsequently served as New York City Deputy Schools Chancellor (1981-1983), the first Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education in the U.S. Department of Education under the Carter Administration (1980-1981), and Superintendent of the Wilmington, Del., public schools, where he led the transition from desegregation to consolidation with surrounding suburban districts.
He joined the Lehman faculty in 1983 as a full professor in the department of secondary, adult, and business education, and was dean of the Division of Professional Studies (now the Division of Education) until his retirement in 1995. When Lehman’s founding president, Dr. Leonard Lief, retired in 1990, he served as acting president until the appointment of president Fernández later that year. Dr. Minter also was acting president of York College from February to December 1995.
Strongly believing that Lehman should have an institutional presence in the borough’s schools, Dr. Minter spearheaded educational initiatives that continue today, including the New York State Science and Technology Program (STEP), the Macy Medical Sciences Honors Program at Dewitt Clinton High School and the Pre-Teaching Academy at Walton High School, which later grew into the High School for Teaching and the Professions. His vision was the catalyst for the formation of Lehman’s Center for School/College Collaboratives, which implements projects that focus on increasing educational success for Bronx students and their families, and also prepares students to enter and complete higher education.
Dr. Minter earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from New York University, a master’s from Union Theological Seminary, a doctorate from Harvard University and an honorary doctorate from Villanova University. He received numerous honors, including New York University’s Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, and was active in the NAACP, National Urban League and One Hundred Black Men.
Dr. Minter is survived by his wife, Dr. Rae Alexander-Minter, an author and educator; his brother, William Arthur Minter, a retired vice president of Sikorsky Aircraft Company; and his son, Thomas K. Minter, Jr., by his first wife, Sara Prettyman, who predeceased him. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 29, at Christ Church in Riverdale.