Top 25 Women in Higher Education - Higher Education
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Top 25 Women in Higher Education



We salute and honor a diverse group of women who have made significant
contributions in higher education from administration, science, nonprofit organizations and sports.
Compiled by Diane Hayes

 

Dr. Helen Benjamin

Chancellor, Contra Costa Community College District

 

Dr. Helen Benjamin has made a real impact in her eight years as chancellor of the Contra Costa Community College district. She has held progressively higherlevel positions, including district vice chancellor of educational programs and services, interim president of Los Medanos College and president of Contra Costa College, since joining the district in 1990 as dean of language arts and humanistic studies and related occupations at Los Medanos College. She serves in a variety of professional and community organizations around the district. Her national posts include convener of the Presidents’ Round Table, an affi liate organization of the National Council on Black American Aff airs, and co-chair of the Congressional Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance. In addition, she serves on the board of Excelsior College located in Albany, N.Y. Benjamin has a bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish from Bishop College in Texas, where she graduated magna cum laude, and she earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas.

Sarita E. Brown

President, Excelencia in Education

 

Sarita E. Brown serves as president of the nonprofit Excelencia in Education, established with the goal of accelerating Latino success in higher education. Brown has spent more than two decades at prominent national educational institutions and at the highest levels of government, working to implement effective strategies to raise academic achievement and opportunity for low-income and minority students. She started her career at the University of Texas at Austin by building a national model promoting minority success in graduate education. In 1993, Brown was appointed as executive director of the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans under President Bill Clinton and U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley. She later applied her talents and experience to the not-for-profit sector, and in 2004, she cofounded Excelencia in Education. In 2009, she was honored with the Harold G. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education for her “innovative thinking, strong leadership and accomplishment by example.” She holds a Bachelor of Arts in ethnic studies and a Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in communication from the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Valeria P. Fleming

Professor of Biology, Fayetteville State University

 

With 50 years of teaching, Dr. Valeria P. Fleming is the longest serving university employee and is among state workers with the greatest length of service at one institution. Fleming is known as a teacher of life sciences and life lessons. Many of her students have had great success as medical doctors, teachers, researchers, and in other science-related fields. She is warmly regarded and is seen as an invaluable resource at Fayetteville State and in the greater science community. She has received grants and support from the Rockefeller Foundation, National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation Advanced Study Fellowship and University of North Carolina Board of Governor’s Advanced Study Fellowship. In addition, she has received recognition including the Top Fifty Minority Women Scientist Award, National Technical Association Faculty Award for Significant Contributions to the Development of Chestnut Library at Fayetteville State, Sponsored Research Award and Grantsmanship Award.

Peggy Davis

Athletic Director, Virginia State University

 

In her eighth year as athletic director at Virginia State University, Peggy Davis continues to enhance a proud legacy of caring leadership. Davis is a two-time hall of fame recipient (at Virginia State and Howard Payne universities), and has been named Athletic Director of the Year of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) four of the last fi ve years. She was also recognized this year by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics as the 2010-2011 Under Armour SE Region for Division II Athletics Director of the Year. Davis also received the Jeannette A. Lee Administration Achievement Award in 2005 and 2010. Prior to her position of athletic director, Davis served as the VSU women’s head basketball coach, associate athletic director and senior woman administrator. Davis has been at the helm of the VSU sports program while it has won 13 CIAA Conference Championships and eight NCAA Tournament bids in seven years. Davis is past president of the CIAA Executive Committee, as well as the CIAA Athletic Director’s Association. Davis earned her bachelor’s degree from Howard Payne University and her master’s degree from Tarleton State University.

Dr. Clinita Ford

Professor Emerita, Florida A&M University

 

Dr. Clinita Ford completed her bachelor’s degree in vocational
home economics from Lincoln University at the age of 19. A year later, in 1949, she received a master’s degree from Columbia University in food, nutrition/institution management and joined the faculty at Florida A&M College, later university, where she worked until her retirement and is professor emeritus. In 1959, she received a Ph.D. in nutrition and biochemistry from Kansas State University, where she was a general foods fellow and graduated with honors. Ford is recognized nationwide for her pioneering professional and civic activities. She was one of the three original authors, in 1964, of Upward Bound, a national program for support services to high risk students. She is the founder and director of the National Higher Education Conferences on Black Student Retention. She has the distinction of serving as the first African-American chair of the Florida Commission on the Status of Women.

Dr. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond

President, Central State University

 

Named the eighth president of Central State University in 2012, Dr. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond has employed aggressive efforts to recruit and retain more academically prepared students and develop more fluid articulation agreements with community colleges and sister institutions, cost-saving cooperative agreements with area universities and improved communication with students, staff and alumni. Before coming to Central State, Jackson-Hammond served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Coppin State University. She was also a lead consultant for H&H Educational Consultants, specializing in strategic planning, curriculum design, accreditation and standards-based assessments.She is well-known for her commitment to retention of males in higher education, and initiated a trademarked program called Real Men Teach, which supports the development of male students as teacher-leaders. Jackson-Hammond received a doctorate degree in education from Grambling State University in dual cognate areas: curriculum and instruction and student personnel services, an Education Specialist degree in counseling education from the University of Louisiana-Monroe, a master’s degree in communication from the University of Louisiana-Monroe and a bachelor’s degree from Grambling State University. She is a graduate of the Harvard University Summer Institute for Educational Management, the Harvard Seminar for New Presidents, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Millennium Leadership Institute, and a Fellow of the Nissan and the National Association for Equal Opportunity Leadership Institute for Academic Deans.

Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover

President, Tennessee State University

 

Appointed to her post in January of this year as Tennessee State University’s eighth president, Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover previously served as the dean of the School of Business at Jackson State University, a position she held since 1994. While at Jackson State, she led the College of Business to implement programs leading up through the Ph.D. degree.
Her guidance has included the development of retention strategies and ensuring compliance with accreditation standards. She played an important role in fundraising for the college, and spearheaded the implementation of online learning programs, developed the university’s internal fiscal accountability measures and served as a key liaison to local and national elected officials. Glover earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from TSU in 1974, an M.B.A. from Clark Atlanta University in 1976, a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 1994, and her Ph.D. in business economics and policy from George Washington University in 1990.

Katrina Y. Emery

Director, Office of Education at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center

 

As director of the Office of Education at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Katrina Y. Emery is responsible for the development and implementation of the center’s education programs designed to inspire and strengthen student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Emery began her employment at NASA Dryden in 2001 as a NASA Louis Stokes Professional Leadership fellow. She provided technical assistance to minority-serving institutions to align cutting-edge research and development activities with NASA. From 2003 through 2005, Emery served as an academic program manager under an Intergovernmental Personnel Act Agreement. She managed grants for NASA funding to historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions and tribal colleges and universities. Her oversight helped increase grant recipients’ fiscal responsiveness and delivery of quality program outcomes to NASA. Emery holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Southern University and a master’s in public administration from A&M College in Baton Rouge, La.

Dr. Shirley M. Malcom

Head, Directorate for Education and Human Resources

 

Dr. Shirley Malcom is head of the Directorate for Education and Human Resources Programs of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Malcom serves on several boards — including the Heinz Endowments and the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment — and is an honorary trustee of the American Museum of Natural History. In 2006, she was named co-chair of the National Science Board Commission on 21st Century Education in STEM. She serves as a regent of Morgan State University and as a trustee of Caltech. In addition, she has chaired a number of national committees addressing education reform and access to scientific and technical education, careers and literacy. Malcom received her doctorate in ecology from Pennsylvania State University, her master’s degree in zoology from the University of California, Los Angeles and her bachelor’s degree with distinction in zoology from the University of Washington. In 2003, Malcom received the Public Welfare Medal of the National Academy of Sciences, the highest award given by the academy.

Deborah W. Martinez

Executive Director, International Ultraviolet Association

 

Deborah W. Martinez has extensive experience with development and management of continuing education and professional development programs. She has previously held executive positions with the Advancing Hispanic Excellence in Technology, Engineering, Math and Science, the Society of American Military Engineers and the American Dental Education Association and was executive director of the Society of Geriatric Cardiology. Recently, Martinez collaborated and implemented three major initiatives related to ongoing training in engineering. They include an online collegiate program for non-commissioned officers to assist their pursuit of engineering degrees, an international webinar program providing information to educate both military and civilian personnel about new and innovative programs and a Deans of Universities Roundtable to address financial opportunities and other means of support for underrepresented students. She is co-author of numerous publications on topics ranging from geriatric cardiology to curriculum development. Martinez is a graduate of Howard University.

Dr. Cassandra Manuelito-Kerkvliet

President, Antioch University

 

When Dr. Cassandra Manuelito-Kerkvliet was chosen as president of Antioch University Seattle in 2007, she became the first American Indian woman to ascend to the presidency of an accredited university outside the tribal college system. Prior to her appointment in Seattle, Manuelito-Kerkvliet served as the first woman president of Diné College, the first tribally-controlled community college, located on the Navajo reservation in Tsaile, Ariz. At Oregon State University, she founded and directed the Indian Education Office. She has worked in various student services and counseling positions at the University of Oregon, University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, University of Wyoming and Montana State University. She serves on the Seattle Community Colleges Chancellor’s Advisory Council. Manuelito-Kerkvliet is a member of the executive board of Washington State Campus Compact and the Board of Directors of the Higher Education Resource Services and the Washington Women’s Foundation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in social work, a master’s in counselor education and a Ph.D. in educational policy and management with a specialization in higher education administration.

Dr. Paula D. McClain

Vice Provost for Graduate Education, Duke University

 

Dr. Paula D. McClain is professor of political science and professor of public policy and dean of the graduate school and vice provost for graduate education at Duke University. She also directs the American Political Science Association’s Ralph Bunche Summer Institute hosted by Duke University. Her articles have appeared in numerous journals, and her 1990 book, Race, Place and Risk: Black Homicide in Urban America, co-authored with Harold W. Rose, won the National Conference of Black Political Scientists’ 1995 Best Book Award for a previously published book that has made a substantial and continuing contribution. Since arriving at Duke, she has served on the Appointment, Promotions and Tenure Committee and as its chair in 2002. She has served as chair of the Academic Council, the Provost’s Diversity Task Force, the Arts and Sciences’ Budget Task Force and various departmental and other ad hoc committees. In addition to being dean of the graduate school, she is co-director of the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences.  She received her bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. in political science, all from Howard University.

Delise O’Meally

Director of Governance and International Affairs, NCAA

 

A former international student-athlete herself, Delise O’Meally works closely with the NCAA Executive Committee to oversee association-wide committees and manages the organization’s administrative structure. She spearheads the international relations efforts at the NCAA national office. O’Meally is also vice president of the Organización Deportiva Universitaria Panamericana (ODUPA), one of the five regional organizations founded by the Federation Internationale du Sport Universitaire (FISU). In addition, O’Meally was elected to a four-year term as vice president for the United States International University Sport Federation, which is the United States governing body within FISU. The NCAA is a member of the USIUSF, and O’Meally’s position with that group led to her election to the ODUPA board.

Dr. Marilyn S. Mobley

Vice President for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity at Case Western University

 

Dr. Marilyn S. Mobley’s more than 25 years of experience in higher education have aided her in her job as vice president for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity at Case Western Reserve University. She is also a full professor with tenure in the Department of English and a member of the leadership team of the new Social Justice Institute. Mobley chairs the Diversity Leadership Council, the President’s Advisory Council on Minorities, the President’s Advisory Council on Women and the Supplier DiversityInitiative Council, and serves as ex-officio member on two faculty senate committees. She has been recognized for her leadership of various diversity initiatives. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and education from Barnard College, a master’s in English from New York University, and a Ph.D. in English from Case Western.

Dr. Mildred García

President, California State University, Fullerton

 

Dr. Mildred García was appointed as the seventh president of California State University, Fullerton last June. Previously, García served as president of CSU Dominguez Hills beginning in 2007, where she was the eleventh female president — and first Latina president — in the California State University system. Leading one of the largest and most diverse universities in the western United States, García has a strong commitment to multicultural alliances and a belief that these coalitions strengthen institutions and communities, as well as students. García’s research in higher education has concentrated on the impact that equity, diversity and outreach have on policy and practice. She has been an active participant and consultant in the policy work of the National Science Foundation, the American Educational Research Association, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and other national, regional and state higher education organizations. García serves on President Obama’s Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, as well as on several boards of directors and advisory boards. In 2010, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appointed García to the U.S. Committee on Measures of Student Success.

Dr. Anne S. Pruitt-Logan

Professor Emerita, Ohio State University

 

Dr. Anne S. Pruitt-Logan is professor emerita of educational policy and leadership at the Ohio State University. Prior to joining the Ohio State faculty in 1979, becoming the university’s first African-American woman full professor, she served as professor of education at Case Western Reserve University and previously in positions as dean of students and dean of women at Fisk University and Albany (Ga.) State College. Following her 1995 retirement from Ohio State, she served for eight years at the Council of Graduate Schools as dean in residence, then scholar in residence. Th roughout her career, she has focused on improving access to education for underserved populations. From 1979 to 1985, as associate dean of the Ohio State Graduate School, she worked to increase federal support for minorities and women to enter nontraditional fields such as engineering and mathematics. She also held major consultancies with the Southern Regional Education Board and the Southern Education Foundation to dismantle the dual segregated system of higher education.

Beverly Ledbetter

Vice President and General Counsel, Brown University

 

Beverly Ledbetter serves as vice president and general counsel for Brown University. Prior to becoming general counsel at Brown University, she was legal counsel at the University of Oklahoma and adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law and the Center for Higher Education, College of Education. Ledbetter has taught law and higher education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has been on the faculty of the Higher Education Resource Services Programs at Wellesley and Bryn Mawr, the Western Association of College and University Business Officers Business Management Institute and the College Business Management Institute at the University of Kentucky. She also serves on the International Advisory Board at the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at the Stetson University College of Law. Ledbetter received a bachelor’s degree from Howard University and a J.D. from the University of Colorado. A past president of the National Association of College & University Attorneys, former counsel to the Educational Advancement Foundation, past-secretary of the Board of Directors of the National Association of College and University Business Officers, Ledbetter is a member of the Board of Fellows of the Rhode Island Bar Foundation and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.

Dr. Condoleezza Rice

Professor of Political Economy, Stanford University

 

Dr. Condoleezza Rice has returned to the professorate at Stanford
University, leveraging her experience as secretary of state to guide students in political economy courses. From January 2005-2009, Rice served as the 66th secretary of state of the United States, the second woman and first African-American woman to hold the post. Rice also served as President George W. Bush’s national security adviser from January 2001-2005, the first woman to hold the position. Rice served as Stanford University’s provost from 1993-1999, during which time she was the institution’s chief budget and academic officer. In 1997, she also served on the Federal Advisory Committee on Gender-Integrated Training in the military. Rice earned her bachelor’s degree in political science, cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Denver, her master’s from the University of Notre Dame and her Ph.D. from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver.

Dr. Carol Geary Schneider

President, Association of American Colleges and Universities

 

As president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, Dr. Carol Geary Schneider and AAC&U launched Liberal Education and America’s Promise, a public advocacy and campus action initiative designed to engage students and the public with what really matters in a college education for the 21st century. AAC&U has become widely recognized as both a voice and force for strengthening the quality of student learning in college for all students and especially those historically underserved in U.S. higher education; it is working with hundreds of colleges and universities and numerous state systems to expand the benefits of liberal education across the entire curriculum, through new integration between the core outlines of liberal education and student learning in their major fields. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College with a bachelor’s degree in history. She studied at the University of London’s Institute for Historical Research and earned a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University.

Melody Rodríguez, M.Ed.

Founder and Director, Hispanic Outreach and Leadership at
Armstrong Atlantic State University

 

As founder and director of the Hispanic Outreach and Leadership  program at Armstrong Atlantic State University (HOLA), Melody Rodriguez has led an effort to increase the school’s Hispanic population by 37 percent. She is known as a no-nonsense supporter of Latinos in higher education. She is dedicated to recruiting and counseling students, fundraising and organizing on-campus festivals that celebrate Latino culture. Rodriguez holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master of education degree in Adult Education, both from Armstrong Atlantic State University.

Dr. Tamica Smith-Jones

Athletic Director, Clark Atlanta University

 

As director of athletics, Dr. Tamica Smith-Jones has helped Clark Atlanta student-athletes demonstrate immediate success in the classroom, community and on competition fields. Under her watch, retention and graduation rates have steadily been on the rise. In spring 2011 and 2013, more than 40 percent of its scholar-athletes who achieved a 3.0 semester GPA and higher were honored. Smith-Jones serves as president/founder of TJ Sports Complete, Inc., a nonprofi t aimed at exposing parents and youth to the resources they need to transition to college. She earned a bachelor’s in business administration from Alabama A&M University, a master’s in public policy from Savannah State University and a Ph.D. in business administration from Kennedy-Western University.

Dr. Francine G. McNairy

Former President, Millersville University

 

Dr. Francine G. McNairy retired January 26 from the presidency at Millersville University, a post she had held since 2003. McNairy served as the chief executive officer with oversight of a $100 million budget, 1,000 employees, and 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Prior to her appointment as president, McNairy served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Millersville University since August 1994.
During her tenure as president, a strategic planning process led to a new vision statement, a redirection of the university’s institutional identity program, a redesign of the budget process to encourage greater constituent participation, a focus on securing new revenue sources and the strategic process of aligning budget priorities with institutional priorities and goals. She has championed an increase in the diversity of the faculty and the student body and oversaw the completion of a $40 million capital campaign, as well as the Soar to Greatness campaign, which garnered $88 million.
McNairy holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology, a master’s degree in social work, and a Ph.D. in speech rhetoric/communication with emphasis on interpersonal and small group communication from the University of Pittsburgh. She is also an alumna of the Harvard University Institute for Educational Management.

Dr. Alvetta Peterman Thomas

President, Atlanta Technical College

 

A veteran educator with more than 20 years of experience in secondary and post-secondary education, Dr. Alvetta Peterman Thomas is the only African-American woman leading a technical college in Georgia and the fifth such president in the history of Atlanta Technical College. Under Thomas’ leadership, enrollment at the college has increased to nearly 5,000 students per semester, and the career placement rate has remained above 98 percent. Among her many accolades, she has been honored by the National Science Foundation, U.S. House of Representatives and the DTAE/UGA Community and Technical College Leadership Initiative, of which she was a first-cohort graduate. She has a bachelor’s from Alabama State, a master’s in political science from Clark Atlanta University and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Georgia.

Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton

President, Cuyahoga Community College

 

Since Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton took the helm in 1992, Cuyahoga Community College has become a leader in educational innovation, workforce training and economic development. She is recognized as “one of the 50 most influential people in Northeast Ohio.” She works internationally to help develop the community college concept in the Netherlands, China, United Kingdom, Jordon and Qatar, and in the spring of 2011, Thornton was appointed co-chair of the 21st Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges, a national task force charged with setting a bold vision for the future priorities of these institutions. Recognized with many accolades, she earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Murray State University (Ky.) and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. She is also a graduate of Harvard’s Institute for the Management of Lifelong Education. She holds honorary doctorates from the College of St. Catherine (Minn.); Youngstown State University, Cleveland State University, the University of Toledo and Baldwin Wallace College, all of which are located in the state of Ohio.

Dr. Pamela Trotman Reid

President, Saint Joseph University

 

Since taking office in 2008, Dr. Pamela Trotman Reid has worked to build upon the university’s reputation for academic excellence and ensure its commitment to integrity, women’s leadership and service. She initiated and successfully launched its first professional doctoral program. Under her leadership, the size of the graduate program in education tripled with the introduction of off -site classes throughout Connecticut, the program for adult learners was refocused, and undergraduate women’s programs have gained increased recognition for excellence and student success. Among the projects she developed, she is most proud of a math and technology enrichment program for middle school girls, which began in Detroit. Th e program, Gaining Options: Girls Investigate Real Life (GO-GIRL), was also replicated in Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, and most recently, in West Hartford.
She is nationally-known as a scholar in the area of gender and racial issues, and she has numerous published book chapters and articles in psychological journals. A fellow of the American Psychological Association, Reid has held elected offices in that organization. Reid has a bachelor’s from Howard University, a master’s from Temple University and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.