1st Edition

Answering the Call African American Women in Higher Education Leadership

By Beverly L. Bower, Mimi Wolverton Copyright 2009

    Although much has been written about leaders and leadership, we unfortunately know little about women, particularly minority women, who fill this particular role. This book presents the stories, and the reflections on their paths to leadership in higher education, of seven African American women. Each has been the first woman, first African American, or first African American woman in one or more of the positions of authority that she has held. Each has overcome the double bind of sexism and racism that can inhibit the professional attainment of African American women. Although they followed different paths to leadership, similarities in their experiences, values, and beliefs emerge. They also express a need to give back to those communities that nourished their growth and leadership – of which this book is a manifestation. At a time when significant turnover in college leadership is about to occur – presenting increased opportunities for women and minorities – these leaders hope that the strategies they describe, the insights they impart, the experiences they recount, and, most of all, the passion they have sustained for the betterment of and greater inclusiveness in higher education, will inspire the next generation of women to answer the leadership call.

    Acknowledgements; Forward; 1)The Realities of African American Women in Higher Education Leadership; 2. Being Okay With Being Me; 3. Walking the Talk; 4. Finding Purpose Through Meaningful Leadership; 5. Making Things Happen; 6. Choosing Commitment to Change; 7. Energized for the Hard Work of Leadership; 8. For the Greater Good; 9. Six C's of Leadership; 10. Project Methodology; Index.


    Beverly L. Bower is Professor of Higher Education, Don A. Buchholz Endowed Chair, and Director of the Bill J. Priest Center for Community College Education, University of North Texas. Mimi Wolverton graduated from Northern Illinois University with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a minor in geology in 1967. She encountered no women on the faculty in either department. That year, women in STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) accounted for 8 percent of PhDs. and less than 25 percent of baccalaureate degrees. After working a number of years in heavy construction, she earned both an MBA and a PhD in education leadership and policy studies at Arizona State University and spent several years in academia, retiring in 2007 as a full professor.

    "The initial volume is a collection of essays by women who serve as presidents of major universities and colleges throughout the United States who share their wisdom about the challenges they face in a historically male-dominated profession. It highlights women's ability to balance work and life as well as succeed in this context by developing alternative management strategies that are applicable for men and women leaders alike."

    Julia M. Speller, Chicago Theological Seminary

    Teaching Theology and Religion

    "The book is an excellent resource for anyone interested in the stories behind the successes of prominent African American women leaders, and contains valuable lessons about leadership in context and in general."

    On Campus with Women

    “Tells the stories of seven African-American women—five current or former college presidents and three who are devoted to leadership in higher education policy venues at state and/or national levels. Each lived through the pre-Civil Rights era and has firsthand experience in the movement’s resulting societal changes. The authors hope their subjects’ stories will inspire the next generation of women to answer the leadership call.

    One memorable chapter shares how, in 2005, Marvalene Hughes ended her 11-year tenure as president of California State University, Stanislaus, to come to New Orleans and head up Dillard University. About two months later, Hurricane Katrina hit. She returned after the storm to more than $400 million in campus damages—and a ‘totally wounded community’ to care for. Many people have written to her, saying they had wondered why she had chosen Louisiana over California. After Katrina, reports Hughes, ‘they said, “That is it.” I have begun to believe it as well. And it is in that believing that I am able to recommit, to give my very best effort to moving the university forward.’ ”

    UBDaily (University Business)