Black On Campus
Higher Education and the African American Experience

2009 in Review: A Mixed Bag for Blacks in Higher Education, Part I

January 9th, 2010 by Ajuan Mance


In many ways, 2009 was a wonderful year for Black people in higher education, a year characterized by extraordinary achievements and exciting inroads, but punctuated, occasionally, by some painful and disappointing lows.

The Black on Campus Hall of Fame for 2009 celebrates the year’s most exciting and inspiring highs, from the athlete who proved that brains and brawn can exist in the same body, to the college president whose ability to reinvigorate a highly-regarded but under-funded university was commemorated with a proud celebration of her achievements. This year’s hall of fame recognizes these five extraordinary men and women:

  1. Martina, Kenny, Ray, and Carol Crouch and their parents. Raising one child to reach the highest levels of academic achievement, to love learning, and to relish the opportunity to challenge herself intellectually is difficult enough. This extraordinary household produced four intellectual standouts, each of whom was admitted early to the Yale University class of 2014. Follow THIS LINK to read more.
  2. Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Dr. Jackson’s first 10 years at RPI have come to be known as the “Decade of Transformation,” and not solely due to her successful $1.4 billion dollar capital campaign. An inveterate fundraiser and academic visionary, President Jackson’s Rensselaer Plan has led to the hiring of over 200 new faculty, a reduction in class size, and the renovation and expansion of research and classroom facilities, all since 1999. Follow THIS LINK to read more.
  3. Myron Rolle, FSU football standout and Rhodes Scholar. When he matriculated at Oxford University this past fall, Myron Rolle became the first Florida State football player in anyone’s memory to be selected as a Rhodes Scholar. A likely candidate for the 1st or 2nd round of the NFL draft, Rolle chose Oxford over professional football, risking the possibility that he might not be as desirable to NFL coaches after time away from the sport. Rolle planned to combine his studies at Oxford with rigorous workouts, all with the intention of remaining as competitive athletically as he is academically. Follow THIS LINK to read more.
  4. Professor Annette Gordon-Reed, author of The Hemingses of Monticello. In April of 2009, Gordon-Reed, a Harvard Law grad and Rutgers University history professor, became the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize in History for this, her second book on the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and his family, the enslaved African American woman who was his lover (Sally Hemings), and the origins of race and sex in the U.S. In November of 2008, Gordon-Reed became the first African American woman to win a National Book Award in the nonfiction category for the same volume. Follow THIS LINK to read more.
  5. U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama. On January 20, 2009 Barack Obama was sworn in as the nation’s first Black president. There was, however, a dimension to Obama’s inauguration that was especially thrilling to me, as a African American scholar,  and it was the curious pleasure of seeing a Black professor sworn in as the nation’s chief executive. A Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, from 1996 to 2004 (when he was elected to the U.S. Senate), Obama was a non-tenure-track constitutional law professor at the UC Law school. Follow THIS LINK to read more.

Posted by Ajuan Mance

Posted in Academia, African American Students, African Americans, Black History, Black Students, Current Events, Higher Education, race

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