Celebrating Black History

Honoring Contemporary Black Women



Gwendolyn Boyd, Ph.D.

Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd is the 14th, and first female, president at Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama.

A Montgomery, Ala., native, Boyd earned her undergraduate degree from Alabama State University (ASU), with a major in mathematics and a double minor in physics and music. Upon graduation, Boyd received a fellowship to pursue graduate work at Yale University, where she was the first African-American female to earn a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from this Ivy League institution. She also has earned both the Master of Divinity and the Doctor of Ministry degrees from Howard University.

Boyd’s relationship with ASU actually began when she was a child, living just a few blocks away from the University. Despite her humble beginnings, Boyd excelled early and consistently as a student. Her life as a trailblazer began when, as a teenager, she was one of five black students chosen to integrate Montgomery’s Baldwin Junior High School. Continuing as a pioneer, she helped to establish an interracial council while at Jefferson Davis High School, was a member of the National Honor Society, performed in the school choir and graduated as valedictorian of her class in 1973.

Boyd came to ASU on an academic scholarship, and in her words, the University “embraced me, invested in me and changed my life inexorably.” As a college student, her academic and leadership skills were evident, as she was inducted into Alpha Kappa Mu National Honor Society, Beta Kappa Chi Education Honor Society and Pi Mu Epsilon Mathematics Honor Society; pledged Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and was the Beta Eta Chapter president on campus; was elected Miss Alabama State University (1976-77) and graduated summa cum laude in 1977.

Boyd’s professional career at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) was highlighted by exemplary leadership and dedicated service. In 1999, she became the Assistant for Development Programs and was later named Executive Assistant to the Chief of Staff at APL. In 1997, Boyd was selected to serve on the Johns Hopkins Diversity Leadership Council.

A nationally recognized champion of education, Boyd has spearheaded efforts across the nation and in other countries to help broaden the scope of educational offerings, especially as it relates to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines.

Because of her efforts in advancing education, Boyd was nominated by President Barack Obama and received U.S. Senate confirmation to serve as a trustee to the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation in 2009.

On Jan. 16, 2014, President Barack Obama announced his intent to appoint Boyd and 14 other individuals to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African – Americans. This Commission is charged with strengthening the nation by improving educational outcomes for African – Americans and to ensure that all African – Americans receive an education that prepares them for college, productive careers, and satisfying lives.

Boyd also is a minister and an ordained itinerant elder in the AME Church. While in Maryland, she served on the ministerial staff of Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington, Md.

In 2000, Boyd was elected to serve as the 22nd National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., an international organization of more than 250,000 members. Known as the “Technology President,” Boyd helped to establish technology in all facets of the sorority’s activities and administration. Her four-year tenure as president included a number of transformative accomplishments, including the launching of Project SEE (Science in Everyday Experiences), an initiative funded by a $1.6 million National Science Foundation grant with a goal of promoting math and science for middle school African-American girls. She also led the sorority’s humanitarian and education advocacy efforts in various parts of Africa, including Swaziland, Lesotho and Soweto, South Africa.

In 2013, Boyd served as chair of the sorority’s Centennial Celebration, which involved organizing a year-long series of events culminating in a Washington, D.C.-based convention that drew more than 40,000 participants from around the world.


Beverly D. Tatum, Ph.D.

Beverly Daniel Tatum is the current president of Spelman College.

Tatum received her B.A. in psychology from Wesleyan University and her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan. She also received an M.A. religious studies from Hartford Seminary. Tatum has received numerous honorary degrees, including a Doctor of Humane Letters from Bates College in 2000 and a Doctor of Letters from Washington and Lee University in 2006.

Scholar, teacher, author, administrator and race relations expert, Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum is the ninth President of Spelman College.
Prior to her appointment to the Spelman presidency in 2002, she spent 13 years at Mount Holyoke College, serving in various roles during her tenure there as Professor of Psychology, Department Chair, Dean of the College and Acting President. Prior to joining the Mount Holyoke faculty in 1989, Dr. Tatum was an Associate Professor and Assistant Professor of Psychology at Westfield State College in Westfield, Massachusetts, and a Lecturer in Black Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Dr. Tatum is a clinical psychologist whose areas of research interest include black families in white communities, racial identity in teens, and the role of race in the classroom.
For more than 20 years, Dr. Tatum taught her signature course on the psychology of racism. She has also toured extensively, leading workshops on racial identity development and its impact in the classroom. Her latest book, Can We Talk about Race? And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation, released in 2007, explores the social and educational implications of the growing racial isolation in public schools.
Dr. Tatum is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees including from Agnes Scott College, Bates College, Bowdoin College, Bridgewater State College, Mount Holyoke College, Salem State University, Westfield State College, Washington and Lee University, Westfield State College and Wheelock College. In 2005, she was awarded the prestigious Brock International Prize in Education for the innovative leadership she has provided in the field of education.
Actively involved in the Atlanta community, Dr. Tatum is a member of several boards including the Executive Committee of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, the Woodruff Arts Center, the Community Foundation of Atlanta, and the Atlanta Regional Consortium for Higher Education, where she serves as Vice Chair. In addition, she co-chaired the Early Education Commission of the United Way.



Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.

Shirley Ann Jackson FREng (born August 5, 1946) is an American physicist, and the eighteenth president of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She received her Ph.D. in nuclear physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973, becoming the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate at MIT.

Jackson was born in Washington D.C. Her parents, Beatrice and George Jackson, strongly valued education and encouraged her in school. Her father spurred on her interest in science by helping her with projects for her science classes. At Roosevelt High School, Jackson attended accelerated programs in both math and science, and graduated in 1964 as valedictorian.

Jackson began classes at MIT in 1964, one of fewer than twenty African American students and the only one studying theoretical physics. While a student she did volunteer work at Boston City Hospital and tutored students at the Roxbury YMCA. She earned her bachelor’s degree in 1968, writing her thesis on solid-state physics.

Jackson elected to stay at MIT for her doctoral work, in part to encourage more African American students to attend the institution. She worked on elementary particle theory for her Ph.D., which she completed in 1973, the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate degree from MIT. Her research was directed by James Young. Jackson was also the second African American woman in the United States to earn a doctorate in physics.

On July 1, 1999, Jackson became the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She was the first woman and first African American to hold this position. Jackson is leading a strategic initiative called The Rensselaer Plan and much progress has been made towards achieving the Plan’s goals. She has overseen a large capital improvement campaign, including the construction of an Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center and the East Campus Athletic Village. She enjoys the ongoing support of the RPI Board of Trustees.

Since arriving at RPI, Jackson has been one of the highest-paid university presidents in the nation.

Julianne Malveaux


Julianne Malveaux, Ph.D.

Julianne Malveaux (born September 22, 1953, in San Francisco, California) is an African-American economist, author, liberal social and political commentator, and businesswoman. She is well known for her left-wing political opinions. After five years as the 15th president of Bennett College, she resigned effective May 6, 2012

Malveaux entered Boston College after the 11th grade, and earned a B.A. and M.A. degrees in economics there in three years. While there, she was initiated in the Iota Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority. She earned a Ph.D. in economics from MIT, and holds honorary degrees from Benedict College, Sojourner-Douglass College and the University of the District of Columbia.

She taught at San Francisco State University (1981–1985) and was a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley, (1985–1992). She has also been visiting faculty at the New School for Social Research, College of Notre Dame (San Mateo, California), Michigan State University, and Howard University.


Elmira Mangum

Elmira Mangum, Ph.D.

Dr. Elmira Mangum is the 11th President at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida. She is also the first female President in the University’s 126 year history to be installed as a permanent president.

Prior to her recent appointment, Magnum served as vice president for planning and budgeting at Cornell University, an Ivy League research institution in Ithaca, New York. While at Cornell, Mangum was the senior administrator charged with managing the university’s resources and annual budgeting process. She has been credited with helping the university overcome a structural deficit that impacted the university after the economic downturn.

For more than 28 years, she has served as an executive at nationally recognized institutions of higher learning, including a stint as senior associate provost at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, vice provost at the University of Buffalo and operations specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mangum also has held faculty appointments at Cornell’s Johnson School of Management, the UNC Chapel Hill School of Government and the UB Graduate School of Education.

Mangum was a member of the inaugural class of the Millennium Leadership Institute, attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education Management Development Program and Cornell’s Administrative Management Institute.

She is also a member of the HERS Board of Directors, the NCCU Creating the Vision Board of Directors, the Board of Directors of the Network for Change and Continuous Improvement (NCCI) and was a university chair of the American Association of University Women. She is a life member of the National Council of Negro Women and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.


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