A Champion for Education and Housing

September 18, 2015
Archie Givens at U Archives

Archie Givens, this year’s homecoming grand marshal, has championed education and devoted his career to building affordable housing.

After playing Gopher football for four years and studying history in the mid-’60s, Givens earned a master’s degree in hospital and health care administration and eventually found himself in business with his father, Archie Givens Sr., a storied entrepreneur and developer of nursing homes and housing.

In his own storied career, Givens has worked on numerous housing developments, including the Heritage Park project, which established 900 affordable and market-rate housing units in the near north side of Minneapolis. 

“The need for affordable housing is so huge, and it has been for a number of years. And it’s always been difficult for communities to accept,” he says. “It’s an educational process, and it became a very interesting challenge for me.”

He is also president of the Givens Foundation for African American Literature—a foundation started by his parents. Housed in the U’s Elmer L. Andersen Library, the Archie Givens Sr. Collection of African American Literature has over 18,000 African American literary works and cultural objects.

In addition to expanding the collection, Givens aims to broaden the foundation’s other initiatives like its Givens Black Books programs, which puts African American literature in the hands of schoolchildren. That’s connected to his current passion—closing the achievement gap.

A devoted volunteer and former chair of the Alumni Association board, Givens is honored to be this year’s grand marshal. “I really love the U; it was really good to me,” he says. “It’s a very significant resource as an academic institution, in medicine, in business, and law, and it has a huge impact on Minnesota and the quality of life here. I’m awestruck by the University and its reach and influence.”