James Snead publishes Figures of Division, an analysis of race and language in the novels of William Faulkner.
Michael Palm begins working at Berkshire Hathaway with his business partner Steven Gluckstern.
Harry Kondoleon is diagnosed with AIDS.
Terence Beirn joins the staff of the US Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources.
The space shuttle Challenger explodes 73 seconds after taking off on its tenth mission to outer space. All nine crewmembers, including school teacher Christa McAuliffe, are killed.
The Iran-Contra scandal breaks, revealing that senior officials in the Reagan administration conspired to arrange the illegal sale of arms to Iran in the hopes of securing the release of American hostages held there, while diverting proceeds of the sales to anticommunist rebels in Nicaragua.
Following the retirement of A. Bartlett Giamatti, Benno C. Schmidt, Jr. is named president of Yale University. Schmidt, a graduate of both Yale College and Yale Law School, leaves his job as Dean of Columbia Law School to take over as President of Yale. While president-elect, Schmidt adds the category of sexual orientation to the university’s non-discrimination policy.
Ella Fitzgerald receives an honorary doctorate at the university’s annual commencement ceremony.
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) publishes a report criticizing the US government’s handling of the “national health crisis” and calling for a $2 billion investment in AIDS research and prevention.
President Ronald Reagan first mentions AIDS in a public address, in which he says that his administration is committed to finding a cure for the syndrome. Reagan’s budget for the same year calls for both a $10 million reduction in the Public Health Service’s (PHS) AIDS efforts and further cuts to Medicaid.
The PHS includes AIDS on its list of “dangerous contagious diseases,” restricting entry of PWAs into the United States and enabling immigration authorities to detain PWAs attempting to enter the country. The PHS will later mandate testing for all visa applicants.
Fashion designer Perry Ellis dies of an AIDS-related illness.
Activist Cleve Jones creates the first panel—dedicated to his friend Marvin Feldman— of what will become the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
By year’s end, a total of 28,712 cases and 24,559 deaths have been reported in the United States.