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STEM, Liberal Arts, Women and Minorities

Posted by on Thursday, January 16, 2014 in News, Project Dialogue.

Project Dialogue returns with its next event February 11th at 7 pm in the Wyatt Rotunda on the Peabody side of campus. Women, Minorities and STEM will be the topic as we host two dynamic college presidents to talk about their experiences and the future of higher education. Dr. Lynn Pasquerella, President of Mt. Holyoke College, and Dr. Walter Kimbrough, President of Dillard University, will discuss the history and present situation of STEM (the educational fields of science, technology, engineering and math) and the rapid rise in popularity of these fields. While these fields may more easily place students in jobs, what does this trend leave for the future of Liberal Arts education? Does liberal arts still play a role in general education? Does a focus on STEM lead to colleges and universities becoming more akin to trade schools? How do women and minorities fit into these trends? What does this mean for future graduates?

A philosopher and ethicist whose career has combined teaching and scholarship with local and global engagement, Lynn Pasquerella’s first three years as Mount Holyoke’s president have been marked by a robust strategic planning process, outreach to local and regional communities as well as the world-wide network of Mount Holyoke alumnae, and a commitment to a vibrant campus community.

After graduating magna cum laude from Mount Holyoke in 1980, Pasquerella earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Brown University in 1985.  She joined the Department of Philosophy at the University of Rhode Island, rising rapidly through the professorial and administrative ranks to the position of Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Graduate School.  In her oversight of undergraduate programs in 9 colleges, plus 55 masters and 36 Ph.D. programs, she focused particularly on high academic standards, interdisciplinary as well as strongly discipline-based teaching and research, connections with the community, improved access to higher education, and the enduring power of liberal learning.  In 2008 she was named Provost at the University of Hartford, where she provided academic, financial, and administrative leadership for seven schools and colleges serving 4700 undergraduate and 1600 graduate students.  In 2010, her alma mater named her the eighteenth President of Mount Holyoke College.

Pasquerella has written extensively on medical ethics, theoretical and applied ethics, metaphysics, public policy, and the philosophy of law.  A celebrated teacher, she has found time to co-teach a class in almost every semester of her presidency, with faculty in departments as disparate as Sociology, Biology, and Africana Studies.  As President, she has focused especially on strategic planning, shared governance, long-term financial sustainability, access for students from all socioeconomic backgrounds, and increased visibility for Mount Holyoke across the nation and around the world.  At the core of her career and her priorities is an abiding commitment to liberal education as a force for good, both for the individual and for civic society.  Manifestations of that commitment include her work as senator and member of the executive committee of Phi Beta Kappa;  her role as host of The Academic Minute, a WAMC Northeast Public Radio program featuring brief faculty presentations on subjects of both scholarly and general interest;  and her public advocacy for cost and price containment in higher education backed up by two years of freezes in Mount Holyoke’s tuition rates.

On July 1, 2012, Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough began his appointment as the seventh president of Dillard University. Previously, Dr. Kimbrough served as president of Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas. Known as the Hip Hop President, he is one of the youngest college presidents in the nation. Prior to Philander Smith College, he served in administrative capacities at Albany State University, Old Dominion University, Georgia State University and Emory University. After graduating from the Benjamin E. Mays High School and Academy of Math and Science in Atlanta as the salutatorian and student body president, Kimbrough earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Georgia in 1989. He continued his education at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, completing a Master of Science in College Student Personnel Services in 1991, and in 1996 he earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education from Georgia State University.

Kimbrough has maintained active memberships in several higher education organizations, including the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, Association of Fraternity Advisors, and Brothers of the Academy. He presently serves as chair of the archives, history, and public information committee of the United Negro College Fund, and is a past member of the board of directors. A 1986 initiate of the Zeta Pi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity at the University of Georgia, Kimbrough was the Alpha Phi Alpha College Brother of the Year for the Southern Region and served as the Southern Region assistant vice president. Based on his strong fraternity experience, Kimbrough has forged a national reputation as an expert on fraternities and sororities, with specific expertise regarding historically Black, Latin and Asian groups. Dr. Kimbrough has given over 500 presentations on fraternalism life at campuses and conferences across the country. He is the author of the book Black Greek 101: The Culture, Customs and Challenges of Black Fraternities and Sororities. After five months, the book was an Essence magazine top 10 best seller, and is currently in its tenth printing.

Kimbrough has been recognized for his research and writings on HBCUs and African American men in college, including the creation of the Black Male Initiative at Philander Smith College that has been a model for similar programs. Kimbrough also has been noted for his active use of social media to engage students in articles by The Chronicle of Higher Education, CASE Currents, and Arkansas Life. He was cited in 2010 by as one of 25 college presidents to follow on Twitter (@HipHopPrez). He is currently a member of the board of directors for the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Arkansas United Methodist Foundation. He was named one of the people who made a difference in Arkansas in 2005 by the Arkansas Times newspaper, named by Powerplay magazine in 2006 as one of the 25 most influential African Americans in Arkansas, and listed by Arkansas Business as one of 40 under 40 in 2006. In 2007 SYNC Weekly included him as one of central Arkansas’s most notable residents, and Garden & Gun magazine in 2010 named him as one of five “rock climbers,” residents who prove Little Rock has plenty to brag about. Kimbrough was named the 1994 New Professional of the Year for the Association of Fraternity Advisors, and the 1998 National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Dissertation of the Year award runner-up. He was selected as a 2001 Nissan-ETS HBCU Fellow, and a 2002 participant in the Millennium Leadership Initiative sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. In 2009, he was named by Diverse Issues in Higher Education as one of 25 To Watch. Finally, in 2010, he made the coveted Ebony Magazine Power list of the 100 doers and influencers in the African American community, joining the likes of President and Mrs. Obama, Jay-Z, Richard Parsons, Tyler Perry, Debra Lee, Michael Jordan, and Tom Joyner.