Dr. Cole Honored with Asa G. Hilliard Model of Excellence Award
Dr. Cole Honored with Asa G. Hilliard Model of Excellence AwardJosé Rios, Director, Communications
This month the College Board celebrated the 13th annual A Dream Deferred conference and the 28th annual HBCU conference, which brought together an at-capacity crowd of educational professionals looking to make a difference for African American students and their families.
Each year, the conference honors individuals or organizations that have encouraged African American students to succeed academically. Honorees have developed successful methodologies for positively impacting African American students, and they present a model that can be replicated by others. This year’s Dr. Asa G. Hilliard Model of Excellence Award was presented by co-chairs Camille Jacobs and Adrian Mims to lifelong educator and humanitarian, Dr. Jonnetta B. Cole.
As she accepted the award, Dr. Cole stressed the importance of the work being done at the conference and described how inspired she is to continue educating African American students.
“We’re gathered to become even more inspired to do the sacred work of effectively educating African American students,” said Dr. Cole. “I want you to know that there’s something so very special about receiving this Asa G. Hilliard Award. I see myself fundamentally as a teacher and a learner, so to be acknowledged in this way—where teaching and learning are so appropriately praised—is an honor.”
She continued: “But let me also share with you that I had the privilege and joy of knowing the good professor Dr. Asa Hilliard. He was unrelentingly committed to the appropriate and effective education of black students. And brother Asa knew that coming to understand, respect, and love the people and cultures of Africa could make a great contribution to the education of black people, and all people.”
Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole started her pursuit of higher education at a young age, with early admission to Fisk University; she then completed her undergraduate studies at Oberlin College and earned her master's and doctorate degrees in anthropology from Northwestern University. During the 1960s, as a young professor, Dr. Cole helped found one of the first Black studies programs—she and her colleagues at Washington State focused on the absence of African Americans in history books. Later, she turned to the issue of the absence of women in African American studies, and she pioneered the study of women of color at UMass Amherst and Hunter College. Dr. Cole went on to serve as Spelman College's seventh president and made history as the first Black woman to lead the College, which was founded to educate women of African descent. In 2009, Dr. Cole was appointed the Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art (NMAfA), a position she currently holds.
Previous recipients of the Asa G. Hilliard Model of Excellence Award include Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund, Dr. Calvin Mackie, founder of STEM NOLA, and Mary Brown, executive director and co-founder of Life Pieces to Masterpieces, to name a few. These individuals have established a legacy of excellence and set the bar high for future recipients.
For more information about the award or the A Dream Deferred and HBCU conferences, visit dreamdeferred.collegeboard.org.