Although the “Open Door Policy” removed racial restrictions in the admissions process, the College lacked a comprehensive plan to recruit and retain a more diverse student body, faculty, and administration. President Theodore Stern, who replaced President Coppedge in 1968, hired Lucille Whipper in 1972 to be the administrative officer of the College’s affirmative action plan. A member of the Avery Normal Institute’s Class of 1944—the same class that submitted applications to desegregate the College of Charleston—Whipper had long been an advocate for racial justice and educational reform in Charleston. In her position at the College, she developed plans for not only recruiting students of color, but also for supporting racial minorities and women once they matriculated. In 1984, Whipper left the College of Charleston to resume her political career as a South Carolina state representative.
Among Whipper's many legacies left on campus is the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture. Beginning in the late 1970s, Whipper worked with archivist and activist Margaretta P. Childs as well as other supporters to acquire the Avery building. They founded the Avery Institute for Afro-American History and Culture in 1980, and, by the mid 1980s, they had acquired the building and established a partnership with the College of Charleston to develop a research center for Black history and culture in the Avery building. The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture opened to the public in 1990 and continues to build on the Normal School’s legacy of Black excellence through education and radical organizing as an archival repository, museum, art gallery, and space for scholarly discourse and community outreach.