Freshman students from a minority background who demonstrate potential to become effective music teachers may be awarded a non-renewable scholarship applied toward tuition and fees.
Captain Walter Henri Dyett (1901-1969) was the first African-American graduate of VanderCook (B.M.Ed. 1938) and went on to bring jazz music to his students in an era when jazz music was not a widely accepted art form. Dyett began teaching in 1922 as one of the first African-American directors in the Chicago public schools, moving to Wendell Phillips High School and subsequently to DuSable in 1931. From 1931-1961 he taught jazz and classical music to over 20,000 students including noted performers and jazz greats such as Nat “King” Cole, Dinah Washington, Bo Diddley, Johnny Hartman, Eddie Harris, Richard Davis, Gene Ammons, Von Freeman, Dorothy Donegan, Leroy Jenkins, Clifford Jordan, Ronnie Boykins, John Gilmore, Joseph Jarman, and Julian Priester.
Even with the success of his own program at DuSable, Dyett remained in contact with VanderCook College through the 1960s, acting as a student teaching advisor and frequently corresponding with H.E. Nutt. In a 1967 letter, Dyett said he was “forever thankful for VanderCook. It is an honor to be a grad of VanderCook and it has been the basis of whatever progress I have made, both musically and in general living.”