Dolores Wharton

Dolores Wharton is a former corporate director, foundation executive, and arts advocate. She created the nonprofit Fund for Corporate Initiatives, devoted to strengthening the role of minorities and women in the corporate world. She was First Lady of Michigan State University and the State University of New York while her husband, Clifton R. Wharton Jr., served as MSU president and SUNY System chancellor. Wharton was elected the first woman and first Black to the boards of three corporations: Phillips Petroleum (1976–1994), Kellogg (1976–1997), and Gannett (1979–1998). She served on the Michigan Council of the Arts (1971–1975) and was appointed by President Gerald Ford to the National Council on the Arts (1971–1980). She was a trustee of the Museum of Modern Art (1977–1987) and the Albany Institute of History and Art (1980–1987). Other non-profit boards included New York City Center, Aspen Institute, and Glimmerglass Opera. During her residency in Southeast Asia (1958–1964), Wharton surveyed the artists of Malaysia and in 1972 published the book Contemporary Artists of Malaysia: A Biographic Survey. Wharton has a B.A. in Fine Arts from Chicago State University and has received nine honorary doctorates. In 1982, MSU named its new $22 million center the Clifton and Dolores Wharton Center for the Performing Arts in recognition of their service to the university. In 1987, SUNY named its Rockefeller Institute of Government townhouse in Albany the Clifton and Dolores Wharton Economic Research Center. In 2016, the Whartons received the Lifetime Legacy Award from the Executive Leadership Council for their pioneering corporate roles. Dolores and Clifton Wharton have two sons, Clifton 3rd, who passed away in 2000, and Bruce.  


This author's publications


A Multicultured Life
From the Little Red School House to Halls of Academe and Corporate Board Rooms
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