The Tilford Commission was formed in August 2007 as an outgrowth of an institutional break-out session held at the annual Michael Tilford Conference on Diversity and Multiculturalism, which was hosted that year by Wichita State University. The Tilford Conference, sponsored annually by the Kansas Board of Regents and KBOR institutions, is named after Dr. Michael Tilford, who served as Dean of the Graduate School and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Wichita State University as well as the WSU representative for the Regents’ Diversity and Multiculturalism Committee. The Commission is led by the Tilford Coordinator and includes members from departments and units across campus.
In 1969 Dr. Tilford was one of 100 African-American educators from across the country who received Ford Foundation Grants for advanced graduate study, and received his doctorate from Oklahoma State University. Dr. Tilford also had earned the bachelor's degree from Langston University in mathematics and chemistry and the master's degree from Johns Hopkins University in science education. He was appointed dean of the Graduate School at Wichita State University in 1988 and associate vice president for Academic Affairs in 1994.
Dr. Tilford was co-chair of the North Central Association accreditation team at WSU, chair of the Kansas Graduate Deans, a member of the national organization Council of Graduate Schools, and past chair of the Midwestern Association for Graduate Schools. In the 1970s he served on a committee that developed a successful proposal for the minority studies program. In addition, he helped to conduct a study of the institutional commitment to "minorities" at WSU. Dr. Michael P. Tilford was a beloved colleague and friend to all who knew him, at WSU and around the state, region and nation, as well as on the Tilford Conference planning committee.