Ramon Goings vividly recalls the time he nearly dropped out of the doctoral program at Morgan State University.

He was working in 2011 at a school in downtown Silver Spring during the day, and had to drive up to two hours in evening traffic to get to class at Morgan State’s campus. It was too much.

Then a professor he had met, Warren C. Hayman, made a call to one of his fraternity brothers. That week, Goings had a job interview with a Baltimore City public school.

“You need someone who can show up that way. Sometimes you need someone to open doors,” said Goings, now an associate professor of language, literacy and culture at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. “The [city] school I wound up working for was down the street from Morgan. That’s why I have my career. That one action personally changed my life. It made me feel like he really cared about me as a student.”

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Goings, 36, models that level of care shown by Hayman and applies it to his current students.

“He just has such a body of knowledge and wisdom,” Goings said. “He knows all his stuff. It was an honor to be in his class. He has a way of reaching students. He is the amazing scholar I wanted to be like.”

As the nation marks Black History Month, Hayman, now 90 and retired, stands out for the generations of Black students he has helped pursue higher educational opportunities.

One former student, Adaria Sogbor, the academic adviser for the flexible MBA program at Johns Hopkins University, responded quickly when asked to provide anecdotes about his former beloved teacher: “Anything for Dr. Hyman.”

“I thought he was just this amazing person to me,” recalled Sogbor, who met Hayman while pursuing her doctorate at Morgan State in the early 2010s. “I did not realize how many people he touched and how influential he was to me. I really recognized how impactful he was to other people.”

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Hayman said his life’s mission was, simply put, educating Black people.

“It’s in my DNA to be an educator,” he said. “People have helped me. I feel like I have an obligation to help others. God has endowed me with certain talents and abilities. It’s my responsibility to give back.”

Hayman’s 42 years in education include being the superintendent of the East Palo Alto public school district in Northern California — he was the fifth Black person in the state’s history to ever lead a school system.

“The climate was very political,” Hayman recalled, adding that the state’s fourth Black superintendent, Oakland’s Marcus Foster, was assassinated in 1973 by members of the Symbionese Liberation Army, a leftist terrorist group.

Hayman also served as dean of the School of Education at Coppin State University and as an education policy fellow at the U.S. Department of Education.

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In the mid-1980s, Hayman helped to form a partnership between Johns Hopkins University and Dunbar High School. It was called The Hopkins Dunbar Health Partnership. Over the course of 30 years, the partnership opened the doors for hundreds of city students to access resources and mentors in the medical and science fields.

Hayman’s students over the years included Alisa Plummer-Griffin, 49; her younger sister, now a health policy analyst in Maryland; and her mother, a retired principal in Baltimore City Schools,

“His impact has changed generations,” said Plummer-Griffin, a faculty member and senior laboratory educator at Spelman College in Atlanta. “I was able to guide my own children through successful programs. My daughter is a Ph.D. student and my son is in college. These are experiences that have helped mold how I parent and guide them through their academic endeavors. Even as a professor, some of the experiences he taught me have helped me guide my own students.”

Plummer-Griffin was first introduced to Hayman in middle school in the late ’80s when Hayman was recruiting students for the Dunbar-Johns Hopkins partnership.

“That experience was transformative,” she said. “It provided many opportunities for exposure. It exposed me for careers in the sciences, and medicines — opportunities that I know I would not have been exposed to.”

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Throughout his career, Hayman has been awarded the Phi Beta Sigma Education Award, Baltimore County NAACP Excellence in Education Award and Coppin State Vision award.

Hayman was born in Baltimore and raised in the Sandtown-Winchester area northwest of downtown.

“It was segregated, of course. But there was a family atmosphere,” he recalled. “There was a strong community involvement. Families stuck together and cared for each other.”

Hayman came from a family of educators. One cousin was the first Black superintendent of the city’s colored school system, which were segregated schools set up for Black students before the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. Another was a reading specialist. A third was a psychologist.

Although he was initially a history major in college after leaving the armed forces, Hayman switched over to education. He received his bachelor’s in elementary education from Coppin State, where he was an honors student and a three-year letter winner for the men’s basketball team from 1961 to 1963.

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Dr. Warren C. Hayman has influenced countless Black students to pursue higher education opportunities. He retired from his position of assistant dean of education at Morgan State University in 2004 after 42 years in public education, which included starting the the Hopkins Dunbar Health Partnership, where dozens of Black students went on to professional medical careers. He is pictured here in front of dedicated bricks at Morgan State. (Kaitlin Newman for The Baltimore Banner)

A fellowship allowed him to attend Stanford University in 1966. There, he became heavily involved with organizing the Black student movement at the school. He received his master’s in math education from Stanford and his doctorate in education from Harvard. He spent nearly four decades at Morgan State.

Edwin Green Jr., an adjunct professor at Morgan State’s School of Social Work, recalled having Hayman as an adviser and professor when Green was a student in the late 2010s through the Urban Educational Leadership Program.

Hayman has a remarkable ability to connect with students, said Green, 46.

“Dr. Hayman has a mindset that students will come through Morgan State and exude excellence. He was focused on having individual relationships with us. Each of us got something different based on what he thought we needed,” Green said. “You would be hard-pressed to find a student or colleague of Dr. Hayman that he wouldn’t have a good relationship with.”

Some of that comes from Hayman’s down-to-earth manner, Green said.

“He’s almost grandfatherly — even though it was a professional relationship. I feel like he is a part of my family. He was making sure that we were equipped to effectively teach Black children no matter where we found ourselves,” Green said.

Sognor, 37, applies lessons she has learned from Hayman to her current job at Johns Hopkins University.

“I’m always kind of asking myself when I am dealing with difficult students, ‘What would Dr. Hayman do?’ He was always so patient, caring and empathetic. It influences me daily with how I interact with students,” she said.

Although Hayman officially retired — for the third time — in 2020, he still checks in on students who are finishing up their doctoral programs. He also chairs and sits on various dissertation committees.

“I feel obligated to be of assistance to people,” said Hayman, whose wife of 60 years, Jacqueline, died in 2019.

Hayman’s daughter, Julia Hayman-Hamilton, lives in Randallstown, and his son, Guy Hayman, resides in California. Another son, Warren Hayman Jr., died in 1990.

Dr. Warren C. Hayman has influenced countless Black students to pursue higher education opportunities. He retired from his position of assistant dean of education at Morgan State University in 2004 after 42 years in public education, which included starting the the Hopkins Dunbar Health Partnership, where dozens of Black students went on to professional medical careers. He is pictured here in front of dedicated bricks at Morgan State. (Kaitlin Newman for The Baltimore Banner)

Hayman is grateful that others have recognized his contributions to the community.

In November 2021, a brick was dedicated to him at Morgan State University. And last October, the street on which Hayman grew up — Mosher Street in West Baltimore — was renamed for him. That dedication was bittersweet for Hayman.

“I was pleasantly surprised and elated,” he recalled. “At the same time, I was upset of how that block has deteriorated. There are only two habitable houses there now.”

Hayman said he was touched when a woman passing by the dedication ceremony said to him, “I can tell people I know who this person is.”

johnj.williams@thebaltimorebanner.com

John-John Williams IV is a diversity, equity and inclusion reporter at The Baltimore Banner. A native of Syracuse, N.Y. and a graduate of Howard University, he has lived in Baltimore for the past 17 years. 

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