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Morton-Young receives Distinguished Alumna Award

Posted by on Wednesday, June 30, 2010 in Around the Mall, Summer 2010.

Tommie Morton-Young, MA’55, was named distinguished alumna for 2010 for her contribution as Peabody’s first African American graduate as well as her scholarly work and activism during a long academic career.

Nashville activist, scholar and author Tommie Morton-Young received the Distinguished Alumna Award from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of education and human development during Commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 14. Morton-Young earned her master of arts in library science in 1955, becoming the first African American to graduate from George Peabody College for Teachers, as it was then named.

Morton-Young is a Nashville native who attended public schools and received her undergraduate degree cum laude from Tennessee State University. After receiving her master’s degree from Peabody, she went on to earn a Ph.D. from Duke University.

During her career, she has held many positions in government and higher education. She served as a researcher for the U.S. Navy Library in Washington, D.C., and did transliteration in Russian for the Library of Congress. She also taught at several universities, including Atlanta University, Tennessee State University, the University of Wisconsin, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Central University and North Carolina A&T State University. She retired from the University of North Carolina system as a full professor.

“Tommie Morton-Young made a signal contribution to the history of Peabody in 1955,” said Camilla P. Benbow, Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development at Peabody. “But more importantly, she has used her education to strengthen the lives of children, families and communities, especially those which too often are marginalized.”

“I am genuinely honored to be named as the Distinguished Peabody Alumna for 2010,” said Morton-Young. “The college has a distinguished history and reputation, and as the first African American to graduate from the institution many years ago, I am pleased to name it among my alma maters.”

On May 14, the lawn in front of the Wyatt Center (Social-Religious Building) was awash in blue tassels as 204 M.Ed., 13 M.P.P. and 22 Ed.D. degrees were awarded. Additionally, 315 B.S. degrees were awarded to newly-minted Peabody alumni on Vanderbilt’s Alumni Lawn.


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