Leading the Way: Women Making a Difference, Part I - Higher Education

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Leading the Way: Women Making a Difference, Part I

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by The Diverse Staff

We here at Diverse have been privileged to meet dynamic women in the world of higher education and beyond. They lead some of the most demanding and consequential organizations and programs on the planet. No longer sitting on the decision-making sidelines, they have shattered the glass ceiling and, subsequently, have introduced new ways of thinking about and approaching leadership.

As the editorial team sat down to plan the Women’s History Month edition for 2012, the team thought it would be appropriate to introduce a sampling of these women to all of our readers. This list is by no means exhaustive. Easily, the staff could have come up with 50 or 100 women whose accomplishments would merit inclusion in this group of extraordinary women. So trying to choose 25 was a major challenge, but we relished the opportunity to introduce these women to the readers who may not know these outstanding leaders in their respective fields.

This list represents a small sampling of what higher education professionals know to be true—when it comes to leadership, women are now taking on long-overdue roles. Diverse considers these women representative of the noteworthy traits and characteristics found throughout the academy and beyond. Their ranks will continue to grow and spread. Diverse foresees that these women will provide encouragement to their colleagues as well as those who will follow in their esteemed footsteps.

Myrna Adams

When Myrna Adams retired in 2003 as Duke University’s first vice president of institutional equity, she was hailed for “her commitment and passion to issues of equal opportunity, respect for individuals and trying to make Duke a better place for everybody.” Hallmarks of Adams’ efforts at Duke included making the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration a university-wide commemoration, leading a committee that worked to resolve the challenges faced by Hispanic workers, and training employees to serve as mediators to resolve issues before they were filed as grievances. Adams, a trusted mentor to hundreds, now works as an organizational consultant, tackling such issues as workplace bullying. Adams holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois, a master’s in counseling psychology from the University of Southern California, and a law degree from Hofstra School of Law. (see photo)

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Lezli Baskerville

In 2004, civil rights attorney Lezli Baskerville was appointed president and CEO of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO). As NAFEO’s fifth president, Baskerville has been its first female CEO of the national membership association of the nation’s 105 historically Black colleges and universities and 50 predominantly Black institutions. Prior to her selection, she had served as NAFEO’s pro bono outside counsel for 20 years, executive director of the National Black Leadership Roundtable, appellate counsel at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and vice president of the College Board. Among Baskerville’s achievements while at NAFEO are her development of a national strategy that increased by nearly $1 billion federal funding for HBCUs and PBIs, and her engagement of 25,000 HBCU and PBI students in a letter-writing campaign that thwarted congressional efforts to eviscerate funding for HBCUs and MSIs.   Baskerville received her bachelor’s degree from Douglass College in New Jersey and a law degree from Howard University. (see photo)

Stephanie Bell-Rose

Stephanie Bell-Rose, managing director of the TIAA-CREF Institute since January 2010, knows that losing the opportunity to cultivate the “minds of our nation’s brightest students from every background” is like losing “a precious national resource.” That’s why Bell-Rose, one of a handful of Black female voices at the top of her field, works closely with higher education, charitable organizations, and leaders to broaden the institute’s agenda and expand opportunities for students. Before joining TIAA-CREF, Bell-Rose served as president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, an organization that promotes excellence and innovation in education worldwide. Bell-Rose earned a bachelor’s degree, a master’s in public administration, and a law degree from Harvard University. (see photo)

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Molly Corbett Broad

A leading spokesperson for American higher education, Molly Corbett Broad is the American Council on Education’s (ACE) 12th president and the first woman to lead the organization since its founding in 1918. Broad, who was president of the University of North Carolina (1997-2006) system prior to going to ACE, built an enviable record of achievement in university administration, having previously served as the chief executive officer for Arizona’s three-campus university system and in a number of administrative posts at Syracuse University. Broad earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Syracuse University and a master’s degree in economics from Ohio State University. (see photo)

Phyllis Buchanan

For DuPont’s Phyllis Buchanan, “promoting science literacy for all” has been her motivator. Buchanan, who manages the company’s Office of Education, a division of DuPont’s Center for Collaborative Research and Education, considers “today’s students” to be “tomorrow’s scientists.” To help get those students there, Buchanan works with educators, universities, and other businesses to ensure that young people are prepared for tomorrow’s world. Buchanan says, “The key is to build and sustain knowledge.” Buchanan earned a bachelor’s in management information systems and a master’s in elementary education from Widener University. (see photo)

Michelle Asha Cooper

As president of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), one of the nation’s premier education research and policy centers, Dr. Michelle Asha Cooper has a vision. Since taking the helm of IHEP in 2008, Cooper’s been out front influencing national education policy. The dynamic education leader, who also made Diverse’s “25 To Watch” list in 2009, has Washington insiders tuned into the issues that impact college access, minority students, and success in postsecondary education. Cooper earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of Charleston, a master’s in professional studies from Cornell University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, College Park. (see photo)

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Cheryl Davenport Dozier

In May 2011, Dr. Cheryl Davenport Dozier stepped in as Savannah State University’s interim president. Dozier, who was widely known among Georgia’s education leaders for her work on the state’s systemwide diversity initiative, left her post as associate provost and chief diversity officer at the University of Georgia, where she was also a tenured professor in the School of Social Work. Dozier’s rise to Savannah State’s presidential rank shows that the transition from diversity officer to chief executive officer is indeed possible. Dozier earned a bachelor’s degree from Fairleigh-Dickinson University, her master’s in social work from the Atlanta University School of Social Work (now, Clark Atlanta University), and a Ph.D. in social welfare from Hunter College at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. (see photo)

Charlene M. Dukes

Dr. Charlene M. Dukes is the first female president of Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Md. Prior to heading to PGCC, Dukes served as dean of students at the Community College of Allegheny County, Allegheny Campus. She also served as an adjunct faculty member for CCAC, PGCC and the Community College Leadership Doctoral Program at Morgan State University. Why a community college career? “I saw what research confirmed—that community colleges were the new model for higher education,” says Dukes. “And community colleges offer an abundance of opportunities for leadership, particularly for women and minorities.” Dukes holds a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master’s and doctorate in administrative and policy studies from the University of Pittsburgh. (see photo) 

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