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Now the Race Begins The stage has been carted away, endless rows of gleaming silver chairs are returned to their dark closet. The pomp and circumstance of commencements lift the spirit and, even with all of its ceremonial accouterments now tucked away, fill hearts with hope and promise. Few execute this academic rite of passage better than Clark Atlanta University. This year’s commencement convocation, steeped in tradition and history, reaffirmed this truth. Aside from the diploma, the most visible symbol of graduation is academic regalia. There is a reverence about the long, understated gowns intentionally fashioned after the robes of 12th century clerics to avoid excessively fanciful dress. The traditional headwear seems to have been a form of reprieve from rigid scholarly discipline that once included tonsure. Some historians note that the hoods — yes, the earliest scholars may have actually worn “hoodies”— were eventually replaced by today’s skull-capped mortarboards. Eight centuries ago, as discovery itself (at least in the context of contemporary Western arts and sciences) was in the early stages of discovery, the privilege of wearing academic regalia signaled instant acceptance into an elite social, cultural and economic realm. By 1871, the year our parent institution Clark University awarded its first diploma, the same held true — even if only in microcosm — despite a pervasive veil of socioeconomic disenfranchisement. As a 21st century university president and proponent of this time-honored institution, I occasionally contemplate a radical departure from this convention. Today’s graduates enter a world in which culture shifts at the speed of the tweet; contemporary society is strained by once-invisible, unspoken angst that now inundates us hourly on video; and the economy is simultaneously globalized, fractionalized and revolutionized by technology, geopolitics, even climate change. Therefore, I sometimes wonder if it might be more appropriate to have graduates wear track suits and running shoes, instead of the formal cap and gown. Clark Atlanta will always celebrate this milestone achievement, especially since more than 40 percent of our students are the first in their families to attend college, and among only 20 percent of all Americans to successfully earn a college degree. However, today’s graduates no longer march from academia into privilege. They exit the dais and enter a gauntlet marked by the brutal realities of loan debt, flooded job markets, industry implosions, hyper-competitive recruiting…the list can overwhelm. But we are not timorous. We are Clark Atlanta. Here, we uplift our “Culture for Service” and we “Find a Way or Make One” daily. Here is the good news for this year’s graduates: you are not racing alone. Your journey is a relay, and this issue of Clark Atlanta magazine illuminates the passing of the baton — wisdom, practical advice and inspiration — from a small sampling of alumni who have successfully paced themselves ahead of the pack. To the Class of 2017, I encourage you to reach out to our alumni nationwide as you line up in your own starting blocks. To our alumni, I encourage you to continuously reach back and support Alma Mater and our students. Your insight and experience will help ensure their strong start out of the blocks and, ultimately, a strong finish.
PRESIDENT Ronald A. Johnson, Ph.D ASSOCIATE VICE PRESIDENT OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS & UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Donna L. Brock
FEATURES IDEAS that Matter to...a Class of New Graduates Innovation and Entrepreneurship Beginning With the End Game Franchise Player
EDITOR Joyce Jones
Design and Systems Thinking 22 The Nexus Between Technology and Social Justice
CONTRIBUTORS Joyce Jones, David Lindsay, Grace Virtue
Exciting New World of Computer Programming Environmental Sustainability Moving the Balm Beyond Gilead
Arts and Humanities Beyond the Hashtags
PRINTING Graphic Solutions Group
Student of Change Science and Technology Technology is a People Business
Clark Atlanta Magazine is published by the Clark Atlanta University Office of Institutional Advancement and University Relations. Address letters and comments to Clark Atlanta Magazine, Clark Atlanta University, Director of Strategic Communications, 223 James P. Brawley Drive, S.W., Atlanta, GA 30314. Unsolicited manuscripts and photographs (5x7 or larger preferred) are welcomed for possible inclusion in the magazine. Selection and publication are at the discretion of the editors. Opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors, not necessarily of the University.
Copyright ©2016 by Clark Atlanta Magazine of Clark Atlanta University.
Valedictorian Bats for Women’s Reproductive Health
PHOTOGRAPHY Curtis McDowell, Jay Thomas
Clark Atlanta University is a member of the Atlanta University Center, a consortium of five educational institutions and is the largest of The College Fund/ UNCF institutions. Clark Atlanta does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, age or handicap in the recruitment and admission of its students, in the administration of its educational policies and programs, or in its staff as specified by federal law and regulations. First-class postage paid in Atlanta, Ga.
Discovering the ME in Me Ideas That Matter Guns, Money in Politics, and Homegrown Terrorism
DEPARTMENTS University News
As we pause to celebrate this joyful moment, let us be mindful that commencement is not an end unto itself, but rather an all-important beginning. Now, the race begins. Ronald A. Johnson, Ph.D. President, Clark Atlanta University
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On the cover: Clark Atlanta University’s 2016 Commencement Convocation took place May 16 in Panther Stadium. CLARK ATLANTA UNIVERSITY
UNIVERSITY NEWS $50,000 Legacy Bequest from Class of ’57 Alumna
“Value time because it can rush by. Think about the future, but be in the present, because black folks today are under siege.” First African-American Female Astronaut is 2016 Commencement Orator Mae Jemison, M.D., the first AfricanAmerican female to conduct a space mission, delivered a rousing commencement speech on May 16. The physician and engineer became a household name in 1992 when she completed NASA’s STS-47 Spacelab (Japan) Mission, making her the first woman of color in the world to travel into space and the first science mission specialist performing materials and life science experiments in weightlessness. Since leaving NASA, she has devoted her considerable intellect and energies toward educational, entrepreneurial and social concerns. She is the founder of the Jemison Group, which integrates the critical impact of socio-cultural concerns into the design and implementation of technologies, as well as the nonprofit Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence and The Earth We Share™ International Science Camp.
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Jemison currently leads 100 Year Starship, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency to ensure that human space travel to another star is possible within the next 100 years. She earned the B.S. degree in chemical engineering and fulfilled the requirements for the A.B. degree in African- and AfroAmerican studies from Stanford University, and earned the M.D. degree from Cornell University. Prior to her service with NASA, she served as a general practice physician in Los Angeles, California, and an area Peace Corps medical officer in Sierra Leone, West Africa. She also has served in a Cambodian refugee camp and with the Flying Doctors of East Africa. At Dartmouth College, Jemison served as an environmental studies professor. She also ran The Jemison Institute for Advancing Technologies in Developing Countries,
and served as A.D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine and is on the board of directors of KimberlyClark Corp., Scholastic Inc., the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and Valspar Corp. She serves on the board of Texas Medical Center, and served as chair of the Texas State Product Development and Small Business Incubator Board. In addition, she is an inductee of the National Women’s Hall of Fame, the National Medical Association Hall of Fame and the Texas Science Hall of Fame. The University also awarded three doctoral degrees honoris causa during the ceremony. In recognition of his distinguished contributions as an advocate and composer of the great musical traditions of African-American heritage and the celebrated concert arrangement of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the University bestowed on Roland Marvin Carter the Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa. For his prolific and enduring contributions to the music industry, the University awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters degree honoris causa to alumnus Hamilton Bohannon, a 1964 graduate of Clark College. For his service representing the State of Georgia’s Fourth Congressional District, the University also presented the Doctor of Laws degree honoris causa to Congressman Hank Johnson, a 1976 graduate of Clark College.
President Ronald A. Johnson on February 15 announced the bequest of $50,000 from alumna Jennifer Johnson Jones, a 1957 magna cum laude chemistry graduate of Clark College who earned the master’s degree in teacher education from Atlanta University in 1967. Legacy gifts are made through a will, estate or other forms of designation. This bequest, funded through a life insurance policy, will be used to establish a scholarship for the CAU School of Education, specifically for African-American women majoring in teacher education. Johnson said that “this gift exemplifies the powerful impact of alumni support for the institution. Ms. Jones’ story is one of high standards, determination and fortitude. Her largesse honors not only her family legacy, but also ensures that the same unselfishness that enabled her to earn her college degree will carry forward to future generations of CAU scholars.”
Jones says giving back to CAU was a moral imperative, never an option. It also is a way to establish a legacy to honor her older sister who made financial sacrifices to help Jones with her college expenses. “I came from a rural community in north Georgia where my father and mother farmed their own land, but had limited money. They had less than a high school education and nine children to raise. They taught us all to strive for excellence and to share with others,” Jones explains. “My sister, Morrell, ten years older than me, attended Clark College on scholarships and work study funds, graduating magna cum laude in 1947. She was teaching high school home economics when I entered high school and encouraged me to attend college. She contributed as she could from her meager teacher’s salary.” Thanks to Clark College, now Clark Atlanta University, Jones was able to attain much more than a college education. She has enjoyed the security of a happy, successful life. “I feel compelled to give back and believe that funds toward educating others in the field of education is a forever gift because every educator impacts the future,” she said.
Center for Cancer Research and Therapeutic Development Awarded Two Grants Totaling $2.754 Million CAU’s Center for Cancer Research and Therapeutic Development (CCRTD) in April received two continuation grants from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) totaling $2.75 million. CCRTD executive director and Eminent Scholar Shafiq A. Khan, Ph.D., says the funding will allow the center to continue its breakthrough work toward eradicating prostate cancer. It has invested its energies toward building a comprehensive research and educational program that advances efforts to cure and prevent the disease and mitigate cancer health disparities. The CCRTD is the nation’s largest academic prostate cancer research enterprise and the only stand-alone cancer research center at an HBCU. It also is the only HBCU member of the Georgia Research Alliance.
“We know that an African-American man in his lifetime has approximately a one in five risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer,” said Khan. “The incidence of prostate cancer among African-American males is 65 percent higher, and they are twice as likely to die from the disease as their Caucasian counterparts. Clearly this is a medical issue, but it is also a community and a social health issue.” A total of $1,624,123 was awarded by the NIH NIMHD’s Research Centers in Minority Institutions Program and will be used for cancer research infrastructure development during this third year of a five-year award. A P20 award in the total amount of $1,130,266 will be used to advance the Center of Excellence in Prostate Cancer Research, Education and Community Service, and begins the final year of its five-year award cycle. The awards will help ensure that the CCRTD
can continue its mission along five crucial tracks: conducting basic research in prostate cancer; training undergraduates, graduate students, junior faculty and postdoctoral fellows in cancer research; competitive recruiting of junior cancer research faculty; and providing yearround, targeted outreach programming to educate the African-American community about prostate cancer. “These awards affirm not only the criticality of the research conducted within Clark Atlanta University’s Center for Cancer Research and Therapeutic Development, but also acknowledges the standard of excellence, precision and relentlessness with which the center’s research agenda is executed,” said President Johnson. “There are few finer examples of this University’s transformation into a global forum for ideas that matter than the CCRTD.”
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UNIVERSITY NEWS CAU Awarded $150,000 UNCF Planning Grant President Johnson on April 27 announced the receipt of a $150,000 planning grant awarded to CAU to participate in the United Negro College Fund’s Career Pathways Initiative (CPI), a $2.55 million effort that stands to impact more than 66,000 students, including the nearly 4,000 students at CAU. “This was an incredibly rigorous and competitive process. We applaud all the institutions that put their best foot forward in the interest of their students’ future careers, and we commend Clark Atlanta University as one of the 30 institutions selected to receive a planning grant,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, UNCF president and CEO. The UNCF CPI is designed to improve matriculation to graduate and professional schools and job placement and to elevate career success among graduates of HBCUs and PBIs by aligning curriculum and instructional strategies to anticipate and better address shifting local and national workforce trends. The initiative aims to develop competitive career options throughout the course of students’ matriculation while simultaneously strengthening the faculty, administrative, and operational functions that support their academic and professional pursuits. “We are excited to be part of this transformative opportunity. It aligns perfectly
with CAU’s current efforts to ‘Mobilize For the Future’ by rethinking obsolete, generic paradigms in higher education in favor of reinvigorated college experiences that better prepare students to be competitive decision makers, innovators and entrepreneurs in the 21st century global economy,” Johnson said. “The strategic underpinnings of this program are crucial to sustaining America’s economic success because they target a broader range of opportunities while simultaneously heightening students’ preparedness to more fully exploit them.” Lilly Endowment Inc. committed $50 million last October to launch the initiative, which begins with this initial planning phase, to improve job placement outcomes of graduates of HBCUs and PBIs. Institutions will employ various strategies to achieve this goal, including aligning curricula with local and national workforce needs, developing intentional
2016 Home Football Schedule
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University Names Jenny L. Jones, Ph.D., Dean of Whitney M. Young Jr. School of Social Work
career pathway options for students across their collegiate experience and strengthening their career service options. At Clark Atlanta, the UNCF CPI — which will be called the CAU Panther Pathways Initiative — will be built upon five integrated building blocks: 1) articulating career planning and professional development information to students throughout their matriculation; 2) continued, focused changes in academic policies and curriculum reforms to improve teaching and learning outcomes; 3) systemic facultymentored undergraduate research across disciplines; 4) faculty training to heighten and optimize support of student’s career and professional development; and 5) improvements to career planning, placement and academic support functions and delivery of services. “While we value the importance of a high-quality liberal arts education, which emphasizes critical thinking, problemsolving and effective written and oral communication skills, this initiative will allow us to employ discipline-specific and project-based learning strategies that address economic, social and technological challenges inherent in the new innovation economy. This grant propels and advances our present efforts to become a global forum for ideas that matter,” Johnson added.
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President Johnson in June announced the selection of Jenny L. Jones, Ph.D., thenchair of Florida A&M University Department of Social Work, to serve as the next dean of CAU’s Whitney M. Young Jr. School of Social Work, effective July 25. She replaces the school’s former dean, Dorcas Bowles, Ph.D., who served as interim dean since August 2015, and is a one-time acting president of CAU. A licensed social worker, author and widely published researcher, Jones earned the B.A. degree in psychology with a minor in special education from Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia. She earned the M.S.W. degree from California State University-Long Beach and the Ph.D. degree in social work from Clark Atlanta. Jones also completed her doctoral social work cognate, attaining 25 hours toward the M.P.H. degree, at Morehouse School of Medicine. At FAMU, she oversaw curricular, student affairs, academic programming and personnel issues for the M.S.W. and B.S.W. programs, leading a faculty and staff of 19. She also served as the department’s accreditation liaison officer for the Council on Social Work Education. “When W.E.B. Du Bois is one of the forebears of your academic unit there are very rigid standards of excellence that must be satisfied in charting the course for its future. Jenny L. Jones satisfies and exceeds the standards set forth by Du Bois as we conducted our national search ," said Bowles. “That she is a daughter of CAU underscores the value and role of this school in the national social work arena.” As the new dean of the School of Social Work, Jones will report to the University’s new provost and vice president for Academic Affairs Peter O. Nwosu, Ph.D. Her
responsibilities will include mobilizing the faculty and staff toward enriching the school’s academic offerings and broadening career and co-curricular opportunities. She also will cultivate and strengthen relationships with alumni as well as corporate and foundation entities. To this task, Jones brings nearly 30 years of professional and academic expertise in social work education, professional practice, student and faculty mentorship, organizational leadership, peer-reviewed research and family and community advocacy. “We are delighted that Dr. Jones has accepted the mantle of leadership for the School of Social Work. Her ability to fortify and elevate programming, bridge academic and agency boundaries and create strategic partnerships will be key in reaffirming and accelerating our role in national and global social work circles,” said Johnson. Jones has authored or edited more than 32 scholarly publications, reports and monographs. She has made more than 50 peer-reviewed, poster and invited
presentations in the past two decades, and is a model of research productivity, having been significantly involved as principal investigator or co-investigator on seven externally funded projects totaling nearly $4 million in grant and contracts over the past 20 years. She also is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, most recently the 2011 Mentor Award from the CWSE’s (Atlanta) Council on the Role and Status of Women in Social Work Education. “I am excited to return to my Alma Mater, but I am much more excited about the opportunity to lead one of the nation’s most prestigious schools of social work. I look forward to engaging and collaborating with the faculty, mentoring and connecting with students and exploring how we can better position the school to prepare graduates who will be able to help needful individuals, families and diverse communities, especially in the AfricanAmerican community, and navigate the ever-changing social, political and economic climates of the 21st century.”
CAU Alumnus Named Provost of Forest Park Campus of the St. Louis Community College System Dr. Larry Johnson Jr., a graduate from CAU’s Doctorate of Arts in Humanities (DAH) program, in April was named provost of the Forest Park Campus of the St. Louis Community College System in St. Louis, Missouri. Johnson graduated from the DAH program in 2010 with an English concentration. The Forest Park Campus is a public community college with an enrollment of more than 8,200 students, making it the second largest community college in the state.
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UNIVERSITY NEWS CAU Names Peter O. Nwosu, Ph.D., New Provost California State University–Fullerton (CSUF) Associate Vice President for Academic Programs Peter O. Nwosu, Ph.D., was named in June the University’s new provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, effective July 15. Nwosu fills the position permanently following the August 2015 death of James A. Hefner, Ph.D., who had served in the role since 2012. The author of three books and more than 80 scholarly publications, Nwosu is a tenured professor, a Fulbright Scholar, an American Council on Education Fellow and a graduate of the Institutes for Higher Education at Harvard University. He earned the B.A. degree in mass communication and journalism from the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu, Nigeria; the M.A. degree from Towson University in Maryland; and the Ph.D. in communications studies from Howard University in Washington, D.C. In his role at CSUF, the largest campus in the California State University system, ranking fifth in the nation for the number of baccalaureate degrees awarded to students from underrepresented groups, he managed 55 undergraduate and 54 graduate degree programs and provided leadership for the university’s student success goals and quality assurance efforts. He also served as CSUF’s accreditation liaison officer for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. As Clark Atlanta’s new provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, Nwosu will partner with President Johnson and the University faculty to mobilize Clark Atlanta to enhance academic excellence, capitalizing on forward momentum by strengthening academic programs with the goal of positioning the doctoral research university as “first choice” for the country’s brightest students. To this task, he brings more than 20 years of expertise in strategic planning and decisive, data-driven leadership in the areas of process improvement and institutional reform, student success and college completion, curriculum planning and program design, quality assurance and organizational assessment and effectiveness. “Dr. Nwosu brings to Clark Atlanta an impeccable set of credentials, an absolute passion for students’ academic and career success, and a commitment to faculty as the foundation of the Academy,” President Johnson said. “He exemplifies the highest standards of scholarship and possesses the visionary ability to identify and realize the full capacity and potential of higher education organizations through methodical, systemic planning and collaboration. He is a brilliant institutional architect, but also a tactician who will play a major role in advancing Clark Atlanta’s academic enterprise as a vibrant global forum for research, creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship.”
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“As a scholar and the product of an HBCU, I know that it is impossible to extract the contributions of Clark Atlanta University and its parent institutions, Clark College and Atlanta University, from the uplift of the oppressed, underrepresented and disenfranchised in America,” Nwosu said. “So to become a part of driving a social and educational movement that has endured for more than 150 years is at once humbling and exhilarating. As an academic leader, the opportunity to recalibrate and fortify this institution so that it advances discourse and creates solutions that catapult global populations into the next century is one that I approach with tremendous enthusiasm and energy. I am excited to engage in this great work.” Nwosu’s career, and the resulting portfolio, tracks through some of the nation’s foremost institutions of higher learning. As associate vice president for academic programs at CSUF, a position he held since January 2014, he accomplished several important milestones. Under his leadership, CSUF’s Office of Academic Programs spearheaded multiple efforts to revitalize the assessment process as well as the culture undergirding it. In its response to the school’s institutional review, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges review panel specifically lauded the institution for “creating a wellcrafted assessment process; developing, aligning, and assessing student learning outcomes; conducting robust program reviews; and integrating quality assurance procedures into the fabric of the university.” Nwosu also engineered multiple collaborations to foster the development of innovative undergraduate and graduate student success teams, and the design and implementation of a wide range of data-driven student success campaigns, including expanded advising practices and strengthened outreach. As a result, the university improved its four- and six-year graduation rates, and its student success approach has been recognized nationally. The National Academic Advising Association recently selected CSUF to receive its 2016 Outstanding Institutional Advising Program Award for “innovative and/or exemplary practices” that make “significant contributions to the improvement of academic advising.” From May 2011 to December 2013, Nwosu served as associate vice president for Academic Affairs, Institutional Planning and Assessment at Tennessee State University in Nashville, where he led the successful reaffirmation of accreditation without
“The opportunity to recalibrate and fortify this institution so that it advances discourse and creates solutions that catapult global populations into the next century is one that I approach with tremendous enthusiasm and energy. I am excited to engage in this great work.” conditions by the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges. He also led the development and implementation of that institution’s 2010-2015 strategic plan. His previous service as special assistant to the president for institutional planning (March 2010 – May 2011) prepared him to implement campus-wide institutional effectiveness plan; develop new degree programs, general education reform and assessment; and manage personnel processes, including the evaluation of deans and department heads, as well as student evaluation of faculty instruction. During the 2009-2010 academic year, Nwosu was special assistant to the provost for academic planning and diversity initiatives at California State University Northridge (CSUN). During the 2008-2009 academic year, he served as a strategic planning fellow of the American Council on Education at TSU where he was a member of the president’s cabinet and chaired the Strategic Planning and Business Intelligence committees. Nwosu was a full professor of human communications studies at CSUF, and served as a professor of communication at TSU (2010-2013); professor of communication studies at CSUN (2004-2011) and CSU Sacramento (1990-2004).“My time in the classroom anchors me to my purpose as an educational leader and, more important, fuels my passion for what I do. At the end of the day, the success of any academic leader is not determined by titles or position, or even the number of awards and citations received. It is the success — short- and long-term — of students who enter and graduate that determines one’s efficacy,” Nwosu says. “To see young scholars, artists, activists and entrepreneurs mature into critical thinkers and global citizens is compelling, and makes me all the more excited about becoming a part of the Clark Atlanta University community. This is going to be a transformative experience.”
CAU Alumna Helen Smith Price Named Vice President of Global Community Affairs for The Coca-Cola Company and President of The Coca-Cola Foundation Helen Smith Price, a CAU MBA alumna in April was named vice president of Global Community Affairs for The Coca-Cola Company and president of the corporation’s foundation. She joined The CocaCola Company in 1993 as corporate external affairs director and since 2001 has served as assistant vice president and group director of Global Community Affairs and executive director of The Coca-Cola Foundation, managing its day-to-day operations, including grant making, financial requirements, and regulatory compliance for domestic and international philanthropy. “Helen’s longstanding commitment to serving the community and her proven success within The Coca-Cola Foundation make her an excellent choice for this role,” said Bea Perez, Coca-Cola’s vice president and chief sustainability officer. “I am confident that under her leadership, the foundation will continue to flourish and grow while strengthening communities around the world.” Prior to joining the company, Price held roles in the tax and accounting departments at BellSouth Corporation and Arthur Andersen & Co. As a native of Atlanta, Price’s commitment to the community is extensive. She currently serves on the boards of the Woodruff Arts Center’s Alliance Theatre, The Villages at Carver Family YMCA and the Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals. She also serves on the Nominations Committee for the United Way of Greater Atlanta and the Corporate Contributions Council of The Conference Board.
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UNIVERSITY NEWS CAU Hosts Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders for Third Consecutive Year CAU in June welcomed for the third consecutive year 25 leaders ages 25 to 35 for an intensive, six-week program of academic, entrepreneurship and leadership training as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). The program was established by President Barack Obama through the U.S. Department of State “We are especially excited about the arrival of this year’s class,” President Johnson said. “The relationships developed over the last two years have been particularly fruitful in advancing the University’s ability to tap into a global, entrepreneurial mindset and certainly a dynamic brain trust of emerging global leadership. This serves not only our students, but also our faculty and alumni, by expanding the scope and reach of our academic, innovation and entrepreneurial enterprises.” This year’s class represents 19 different countries: Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Chad, Congo (DRC), Djibouti, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative, which empowers Sub-Saharan African leaders through coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities and support activities in their communities. Fellows have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, communities and countries. Clark Atlanta’s cohort of fellows are part of a larger group of 1,000 being hosted at select U.S. institutions of higher education this summer to participate in business and
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entrepreneurship, civic leadership and public management institutes. Clark Atlanta is one of 14 — along with Northwestern University, Dartmouth College and The University of Notre Dame, among others — focusing primarily on business and entrepreneurship. The fellows will conclude their YALI experience at a Presidential Summit in Washington, D.C., after which select individuals will engage in an additional sixweeks of professional development training with U.S. non-governmental organizations, private companies and government agencies. CAU’s program was conceived and established by economics professor Mesfin Bezuneh, Ph.D. Bezuneh’s role includes close coordination with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational Affairs and its implementing partner, the International Research and Exchanges Board. Clark Atlanta’s fellows will study innovation technology, decision-making tools, corporate and social responsibility, human design thinking, green entrepreneurship and more. The University’s program is supported by sponsors whose
worldwide operations routinely depend on such high-level collaboration, including The Coca-Cola Company, UPS and The Carter Center and Presidential Library, Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport Authority, Georgia Power, Ernst &Young, Emory University, and numerous community service organizations, such as Atlanta Food Bank and MedShare among others. Clark Atlanta’s YALI program has been cited by fellows and government representatives as a model among participating U.S. institutions. Andrew Longwe, co-founder of Malawi’s Capital Financial Services and a 2015 CAU fellow, said in a Mach 2016 interview with AFK Insider that the sum of his interactions made him “a different business person before the fellowship began.” In her March 2016 remarks to the U.S. Institute of Peace, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda ThomasGreenfield singled out the work of 2014 CAU fellow Temitayo Etomi, who “upon returning home from the fellowship has employed and trained more than 100 Nigerians with the aim of creating 1.2 million jobs for Nigerian Youth by 2020.”
Getchel L. Caldwell, II, Named Vice President of Institutional Advancement and University Relations Getchel L. Caldwell, II, formerly Fayetteville State University’s (FSU) vice chancellor for advancement and executive director of the FSU Foundation Inc., is the University’s new vice president for institutional advancement, effective August 1. Caldwell, who earlier in his career served as Clark Atlanta University’s associate vice president for community relations, University ombudsman, and associate vice president for university relations, returns to the University at the pinnacle of a professional arc bridging high-level successes in institutional fundraising, development and capacity-building, strategic and operational planning, organizational communications and positioning, change management, policy development and governance. In his new role, he will be directly responsible for institutional fundraising, major gifts, planned giving, the annual fund, alumni relations and advancement operations, all of which are critical elements in preparing to launch the University’s forthcoming capital campaign. He also will shepherd CAU’s university-wide fundraising efforts to ensure strategic alignment of fundraising efforts across areas ranging from research and sponsored programs and the athletics department, to the institution’s athletic boosters. “We are extremely fortunate to welcome Getchel Caldwell back into the Clark
Atlanta University community,” President Johnson said. “He played a pivotal role in the University’s 1988 consolidation and early capacity building, and has since honed his considerable expertise through a number of impressive institutionbuilding assignments, each of them enriching the creative, visionary skills set he now brings home to CAU.” As Fayetteville State’s vice chancellor for advancement, a position he held since 2012, Caldwell planned and launched that university’s first comprehensive campaign, completing it one year ahead of schedule with $13 million raised as a result of record participation, escalating giving from $1.2 million to $9.14 million in only one year. He also increased alumni giving from 1.95 percent to 13.5 percent during a three-year period. Under his leadership, FSU transformed donor relations, leading to its first million-dollar gift and increasing the major donor base to 75. In addition, he recalibrated advancement operations to improve data entry and reporting processes, and developed a series of strategic corporate partnerships, such as Glaxo-Smith Klein Foundation’s $1,000,000 Star Program. “I am honored to have this opportunity to support President Johnson’s vision for Clark
Atlanta University. His focus on mobilizing for the future, and his keen observation that it is important to include every voice in doing so, makes this the optimal moment to reconnect with an institution that has in so many ways shaped the course of this great nation and, more personally, my own academic and professional journey,” Caldwell said. “CAU is a very attractive investment for corporations and foundations seriously focused on ensuring a smart, competitive, diverse workforce in an increasingly globalized economy. I am eager to build a team than can effectively articulate the energy and immense strategic value of connecting with this unique brand of institutional regeneration.” A sought-after speaker and presenter, Caldwell began his professional career with the City of Atlanta’s Department of Public Safety. He earned the B.S. degree cum laude from Florida A&M University and the M.P.A. degree (with honors) in urban and regional administration from Atlanta University. He holds certifications in volunteer management and criminal justice planning and is a graduate of Leadership Atlanta and Leadership Charlotte. His record of professional service is undergirded by robust civic and community service throughout his career.
CAU Joins the Verizon Minority Male Makers Program The Verizon Innovative Learning Program completed its first STEM Academy at Clark Atlanta University on July 22. The CAU VILP, a national initiative developed by Verizon, is a twoyear pipeline program designed to introduce and teach minority middle school boys in the Atlanta and surrounding areas 3D design and app development. CAU completed the first phase of the two-year initiative with 40 participating students, eight educators, and seven undergraduate student mentors. During the five-week program, participants received extensive instruction and hands-on training in 3D printing and app development. The boys learned how to conceptualize and translate their very own innovative ideas into actual objects
and products. They not only learned how to develop apps, but also used their creativity to develop apps that address issues in their communities. One example of this conscious creativity was demonstrated by student Jaedon Costen, who created an app that worked as an instant black history database to help students in their research on African-American culture. In addition to the technical deliverables, the students also received daily instruction in math, English and literature arts, student development, and health/fitness. CAU VILP activities will continue throughout the 2016-2017 academic year with Saturday Camps on campus for middle school minority males in the Atlanta area.
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UNIVERSITY NEWS Darrell Walker Named New Coach of Clark Atlanta Men’s Basketball
Former NBA player and head coach Darrell Walker in April was appointed the new head coach of the Clark Atlanta University men’s basketball program. Walker will embark on his first collegiate coaching opportunity with more than a decade of NBA coaching experience, including 56 victories as a head coach in the league. Walker has also headed up teams in the WNBA and CBA. Beyond his professional coaching experience, Walker was an All-American player at the University of Arkansas under legendary coach Eddie Sutton. After playing out his days with the Razorbacks, Walker was the No. 12 overall pick in the 1983 NBA draft by the New York Knicks. He ended his ten-season professional playing career following the 1992-93 season as a member of the NBA Champion Chicago Bulls. During a playoff series his rookie season in New York, Walker set franchise bests for steals in a playoff game (seven) and series (15). As a player with the Washington Bullets (now Wizards) from 1987-91, Walker dished out 1,707 assists to sit eighth on the franchise’s career assist chart. He ranked in the top five for guards in rebounding for three consecutive seasons and also had a season during which he was in the top ten in the NBA in assists per game. Walker is a graduate of the University of Arkansas with a B.S. in human resources. His time at UA was commemorated in 2008 when he was inducted into the Hall of Honor by ranking among the all-time Razorbacks leaders in assists (10th) and steals (fourth). In 2003, he was named to the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
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Clark Atlanta Wins USAgain’s Annual Earth Month Challenge USAgain, an Illinois-based clothing recycler, announced in May that Clark Atlanta University won first place in the organization’s ninth annual Earth Month Challenge. Fourteen schools across Georgia participated in the challenge and together collected 3,113 pounds of textiles, which helped prevent 46,695 pounds of carbon emissions. The Earth Month Challenge, which began on March 15, encourages students to collect clothes and shoes for rewear, reuse, and recycling. The winners were chosen based on the total pounds of textiles collected in the USAgain bin placed at each school. Clark Atlanta collected 673 pounds, securing first place, and was closely followed Lindley Middle School in Mableton, Georgia,, and the University of Georgia, which came in second and third, respectively. “It is very important that we all do our part to divert as many recyclables as we can from landfills to help improve our environment. We value USAgain as a campus partner in these efforts,” said Associate Vice President Bonita Dukes, adviser for CAU’s Living Green Club, who accepted the award on behalf of the University. According to USAgain CEO, Mattias Wallander, 11 million tons of unwanted clothing are thrown into the trash and buried in landfills each year in the U.S. Conversely, the 15 percent of clothing that does get a second life is equivalent to taking one million cars off the road for a year. “Congratulations to all of the participating schools for their impressive work. It’s great to see schools so enthusiastic about the competition, and we hope it has inspired them to be keen recyclers,” Wallander said. “Reusing and recycling resources are the best ways to begin building a more sustainable environment.”
Judge Marvin Arrington, Sr. Bequeaths $50,000 to CAU Former Fulton County Superior Court judge and 1963 Clark College alumnus Marvin Arrington, Sr., J.D., has bequeathed $50,000 to Clark Atlanta University to establish the Judge Marvin Arrington Book Fund for African-American students pursuing an undergraduate degree from the University’s Whitney M. Young Jr. School of Social Work or an undergraduate degree in political science. Arrington, who grew up in Atlanta’s Vine City neighborhood, also known as “The Bluff,” attended Clark College on a football scholarship. He attended Howard University School of Law before transferring to Emory University Law School, where he became one of the first two African Americans to graduate from that institution. Arrington was elected to Atlanta’s City Council in 1969 — then its youngest alderman at age 27— and served in that capacity for 25 years, 17 of them as the body’s president. He served as a trustee for Clark College and, upon consolidation of Clark College and Atlanta University
in 1988, for Clark Atlanta University until 2002. “My years at Clark College proved a very rich experience. So many professors and coaches, legends like Raymond ‘Tweet’ Williams and L. S. Epps, encouraged me to work hard, overcome obstacles and move forward,” Arrington recalled when he made the gift in May. Arrington was actively involved in the Atlanta Student Movement while at Clark College and chronicled his life and career successes in the 2008 autobiography Making My Mark: The Story of a Man Who Wouldn’t Stay in His Place. “I’ve asked myself many times where I would be had it not been for Clark. If I had to do it all over again, there is no doubt I would make the same choice,” he added. “So, it is my obligation to give to an institution that has given so much to a poor boy from The Bluff. I don’t have a problem investing in CAU because it happens to be one of the finest institutions in this country.”
Georgene Bess-Montgomery Chosen to Participate in Seminar on Ancient Greece Georgene Bess-Montgomery, an associate professor in the English department, was among a select group of 18 faculty members nationwide chosen by Harvard University’s Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and the Center for Hellenic Studies to participate in an Ancient Greece in the Modern Classroom seminar, “The Histories of Herodotus” at Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies campus in Washington, D.C., in July. The program is generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. “Strengthening the teaching of the classics at colleges and universities is of critical importance. This seminar series addresses the challenge of keeping alive in undergraduate education classical texts that a generation ago were read and understood
by every college graduate,” said CIC president Richard Ekman. “We believe that Professor Bess-Montgomery will contribute to the seminar in meaningful ways and learn much that will energize teaching when she returns home.” Designed for non-specialists, the seminar focused on the Histories of Herodotus, the so-called father of history. The discussions explored his description of the interactions between Greek-speaking peoples and other societies as a way to articulate a more precise understanding of what it meant to be a Hellene at a time of intensified cross-cultural interaction in the Mediterranean. The seminar also equipped participants to use the Histories in a broad range of courses and to enrich the general education programs of their institutions.
Alumni like Judge Arrington, says President Johnson, “are exemplars of service, advocacy, mentorship and philanthropy. He has been a loyal contributor, a volunteer in our alumni relations office, a mainstay at our annual Law Day, and has supported students, programs and initiatives at this University for more than 50 years. There are few finer examples of support and compassion, not just for the University, but for our local, regional and national community.”
Just Come Home Opening Convocation (Sept. 15, 2016) Presidential Inauguration (Oct. 7-9, 2016) Homecoming 2016 (Oct. 9-15, 2016) For more information on CAU events, visit us online www.cau.edu
CLARK ATLANTA UNIVERSITY
UNIVERSITY NEWS AUC Woodruff Library Wins Prestigious Industry Award This year the Atlanta University Center Woodruff Library became the first HBCU library to win the prestigious 2016 Excellence in Academic Libraries Award sponsored by the Association of College and Research Libraries and YBP Libraries Services. The award recognizes the staff of a university library for programs that deliver exemplary services and resources to further the educational mission of the institutions they serve.
Pictured, left to right: Dr. Julio Gonzalez-Ruiz, Spelman College (Library Board of Trustees and Library Advisory Council); F. Sheffield Hale, Atlanta History Center (Library Board of Trustees); Loretta Parham, Library CEO and director; Dr. Garikai Campbell, Morehouse College (faculty supporter); Henry Zigtema, Ernst & Young (retired) (Library Board of Trustees)
CAU’s Supply Chain Management Team Members Win Scholarships from Wells Fargo Bank In yet another bright moment for CAU’s Supply Chain Management Program, four students in the University’s Supply Chain Management Club were awarded $5,000 scholarships from Wells Fargo Bank during the organization’s March 2 luncheon. Pictured here are: Jazmin Simon, junior; Shakwanda Joseph, senior; Candy Moore of Wells Fargo Bank; and Jamal Ferguson, junior; and Jasmine Rollerson, senior (not shown). Kudos to these four Supply Chain Management students and associate professor Paul D. Brown, Ph.D. Well done!
CLARK ATLANTA UNIVERSITY
Professor Alfred Z. Msezane, Ph.D., Has Been Named a Fellow of The Royal Society of Chemistry Hearty congratulations to Professor Alfred Z. Msezane, Ph.D., has been confirmed as a fellow of The Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC), London, United Kingdom. Dr. Msezane is the director of CAU’s Center for Theoretical Studies of Physical Systems in the Department of Physics. The Royal Society of Chemistry was founded in 1841 and incorporated by Royal Charter under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen in 1848. Achieving fellow status in the chemical profession denotes to the wider community a high level of accomplishment as a professional chemist. Members of the Royal Society of Chemistry applying for fellow status must have a minimum of five years of professional experience. In addition, they must have made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the chemical sciences; or to the advancement of the chemical sciences as a profession; or have been distinguished in the management of a chemical sciences organization. The award of designatory letters FRSC is subject to the final approval of the RSC Applications Committee.
CAU Junior Joshua Porter Wins 13th Annual James A. Hefner HBCU Piano Competition
CAU Team Participates in Honda’s Campus All-Star Challenge National Challenge
Joshua Porter, a CAU junior from Akron, Ohio, won first place in the James A. Hefner HBCU Piano Competition at Tennessee State University in Nashville on April 9. The award included a $500 cash prize. Joshua, a music major with double concentrations in piano studies and jazz studies, performed “Concert Etude in D-flat Major” (“Un Sospiro”) by Franz Liszt and five of Alberto Ginastera’s “Twelve American Preludes.” The competition was named after the late James A. Hefner, Ph.D., a CAU alumnus and former provost, who was president of Tennessee State at the time of the competition’s creation. Now in its 13th year, it attracted competitors from throughout the Southeast. The State of Georgia was represented by Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College. Congratulations to Joshua and the CAU Department of Music, especially Associate Professor Mark Boozer, coordinator of piano studies.
CAU’s Honda Campus All-Star Challenge Team once again made it to the National Championship on April 4 in Los Angeles, California. The team, led by longtime advisor and Department of English faculty member Gwendolyn Morgan, included Marcus Dewayne Jones, junior mass media arts major from Sacremento, California; Bryson J. Hudgins- Owens, senior business administration major from Detroit, Michigan; Epiphany Storey, junior psychology major from Rome, New York; and Ayanna J. Jones, senior chemistry major from Overland Park, Kansas. Last fall, 76 HBCUs began the “Road to the Championship.” In February, 64 institutions faced off at National Qualifying Tournaments. By April, Clark Atlanta was one of only 48 competing in Los Angeles for the 27th annual National Championship. So far, Clark Atlanta has earned $207,000 during its years of participation. For a full recap of this year’s tournament results, go to: http://prn.to/1SZTqVb.
Richard Allen Morton, Ph.D, Named “Contributor of the Year” by the Illinois State Historical Society Associate professor of history Richard Allen Morton, Ph.D., on April 26 was named “Contributor of the Year” by the Illinois State Historical Society. This recognition is awarded annually for the best journal article on the State of Illinois and related history. The submission, made in 2015, that garnered this honor for Morton is titled, “‘It Was Bryan and Sullivan Who Did the Trick: How William Jennings Bryan and Illinois’ Roger C. Sullivan Brought About the Nomination of Woodrow Wilson in 1912.” Morton’s work is based on new research and presents new interpretation about the highly contested Democratic National Convention of that year, which resulted in the nomination of one of America’s most prominent presidents. This is his second such award.
CAU Graduate Alumnus to Lead Arkansas Baptist College CAU alumnus Joseph L. Jones, Ph.D., will become the 14th president of Arkansas Baptist College on Sept. 1. Jones is a graduate of Philander Smith College and earned the master's and his Ph.D. in political science from Clark Atlanta. Arkansas Baptist College was founded in 1884 by the Colored Baptists of Arkansas during their annual convention in Little Rock. As one of the state's most affordable institutions of higher education, it offers degrees in business administration, human services, criminal justice and religious studies. The college also offers two-year associate liberal arts degrees and certificate programs. CLARK ATLANTA UNIVERSITY
Dr. Eleanor Rogers Gittens (left), who along with her husband Legacy Alumnus Lyle Gittens (CC, ‘42) is a model of faithful and generous support, this year celebrated the 75th anniversary of her 1941 graduation from Clark University. Dr. Sandra Foster, associate professor of social work, is at her left.
Faculty Marshall Professor Christopher Hickey leads the School of Arts and Sciences Faculty into the ceremony.
Alumna Peggy Wyatt Ross (foreground) proudly marches into commencement with the University's 2016 Golden Sons and Daughters, all returning to celebrate their 50th class reunion.
Clark Atlanta University’s 2016 Commencement Convocation took place May 16 in Panther Stadium. Here, the 721 graduates enter the stadium as the milestone day begins.
Graduates mark this important moment with a pervasive sign of the times, the taking of selfies, as they enter Panther Stadium.
Two graduates take in the grandeur of the occasion.
CAU President Ronald A. Johnson, Ph.D., advances to the dais.
CLARK ATLANTA UNIVERSITY
CLARK ATLANTA UNIVERSITY
The University awarded three honorary
President Johnson officially opens the 2016 Commencement Convocation.
doctorate degrees this year. Clockwise from top left: Alumnus Hamilton Bohannon (CC, ‘74), an artist, author, producer and R&B industry icon, received the doctor of humane letters, honoris causa; Roland M. Carter, Ph.D., composer, arranger, educator and scholar, received the doctor of humane letters, honoris causa; Congressman Hank Johnson (CC, ‘76), representative of Georgia’s Fourth Congressional District, received the doctor of laws degree, honoris causa.
Retired United Methodist Church Elder Sherry Austin blessed the campus with her inspiring invocation.
President Johnson enlisted a special guest
The University’s interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Bettye Clark, Ed.D., delivers the occasion.
Delores P. Aldridge, Ph.D., double alumna and secretary of the Board of Trustees, challenged graduates to climb daily toward consciousness, moral conviction and contemplation.
CLARK ATLANTA UNIVERSITY
The CAU Choir, under the direction of Curtis Everett Powell, Ph.D., once again delivered a stellar performance in tribute to the graduates.
to help introduce the 2016 convocation orator Dr. Mae Jemison, an astronaut, physician, educator and philanthropist. At right is Taylor Richardson, a 12-year-old STEM standout who aspires to follow in Jemison’s footsteps — and complete every NASA space camp by the age of 13. She and her mother drove from Florida expressly to meet her idol for the very first time during CAU’s commencement. Hopefully, the next time Johnson and Richardson are together on the commencement stage, Richardson will be earning her CAU degree!
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Congratulations Class of 2016 Valedictorian Austin Casillas addresses the audience. He graduated with a 3.94 GPA and will now pursue a degree in medicine. President Johnson presents the diploma to Class
of 2016 Salutatorian Briar Davis, a Mass Media Arts/ Journalism major who graduated with a GPA of 3.929.
Jemison inspires the graduates with wisdom that literally propelled her to the stars and beyond.
Class of 2016 graduates eagerly await the awarding of diplomas.
Doctoral candidates Nadia Payne Jones and Steven-Kyle
Jefferson are hooded by School of Education Professor Sheila Gregory, Ph.D., during the ceremony.
accomplished! The awarding of degrees is always the height of the ceremony!
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CAU Alumni Association National President Marshall Taggart leads the newly minted alumni in reading the Alumni Oath.
CAU First Lady Irene Oakley Johnson greets Commencement Convocation oratrix Dr. Mae Jemison following the ceremony.
CLARK ATLANTA UNIVERSITY
Innovation and Entrepreneurship
By Joyce Jones
Bryson Hudgins-Owens: Franchise Player
Lamont C. Smith
Beginning With the End Game
hen sports talk turns to C. Lamont Smith (B.A. 78), words like pioneer and legend are frequently used. At a time when there were few agents who were AfricanAmerican, and even fewer African-American athletes hiring them, the entrepreneur founder and president of the Coloradobased, All Pro Sports & Entertainment, for Tennessee Titan Eddie George a six-year, $42-million contract that made him the highest-paid running back in the NFL. “I discovered my passion my junior year after reading Millionaire Maker, a book about a sports agent who represented professional athletes,” Smith recalls. “I think it’s important to try to identify fairly early on what you want to do and have a singular focus in pursuing it.” During a post-graduation detour working for an Atlanta TV station he helped the Atlanta Hawks’ John Drew with some endorsement deals. Smith saw a void in terms of black agents and took steps to start filling it. That meant earning a law degree from Howard University in 1984 and then working for a few years in the sports marketing division of a
Denver law firm while saving money for and securing investors to open up his own firm. “When I started in this business, there weren’t many African Americans functioning on a high level, so there was potential opportunity but also [barriers] to be broken through,” he recalls, including encouraging black athletes to work with black agents. Smith believes that graduates today face a similar challenge to find and pursue untapped opportunities. “You’ve got to see things that other people don’t see and have a very strong belief in yourself because inevitably there will be downs and setbacks,” he says. “But the setback is just the setup for the comeback. If you believe in yourself and have an unbreakable confidence in where you want to go, you’ll succeed.” If he had to do it all over again, Smith says he wouldn’t change a thing except perhaps to be better capitalized when starting up his business. “It’s important for people to identify their strengths and where their passions are. If you go in that direction, it doesn’t become work,” he advises. “That’s what I did and it became really easy for me to live, breath, and sleep it. If you don’t have that passion, it becomes drudgery.” n
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Bryson Hudgins-Owens (B.S. ’16) chose his major long before he ever stepped foot to a college campus. His entrepreneurial spirit surfaced when he was in eighth grade. While in high school in Atlanta, he sold candy and pushed some T-shirt lines. When he arrived at Clark Atlanta, Bryson initially concentrated on management because the University didn’t offer a major in entrepreneurship. Toward the end of his sophomore year, however, he was introduced to the supply chain management program and it was love at first sequence. “If I want to be an entrepreneur, I will have to have different sources, so it made sense to learn how to build those relationships and move things up and down the supply chain,” Bryson explains. “This knowledge will be invaluable to me in my ventures.” Supply chain management, he adds, is “challenging but not tedious,” and when he makes a mistake, it’s exciting to figure out where he went wrong. CAU’s program is renowned as one of the best in the nation. That is due at least in part, Bryson believes, to the professors, whom he described as deeply devoted to their students’ success. “Even now, as I’m weighing graduate school options and one or two job offers, people are still texting and emailing me, alerting me to different job opportunities,” said Bryson, who is considering earning an MBA at his alma mater. “They are some of the best networkers that I know and have really good relationships with so many companies.” Bryson is still trying to figure out what he really wants to do this fall but he can see clearly into the future. “In ten years, I will have at least one franchise,” he said. “I’m going to take a more conventional route and work in corporate for a while, save money and then enter a franchise ownership operation. Right now, I’m just trying to surround myself with people who have a lot of entrepreneurial spirit and good advice.” n
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Design and Systems Thinking DeCosmon Shorter: Exciting New World of Computer Programming
The Nexus Between Technology and Social Justice By Grace Virtue
22 CLARK CLARKATLANTA ATLANTAUNIVERSITY UNIVERSITYSUMMER SUMMER 20162016
forceful intellect, a passion for social justice, and a sense of purpose and daring took Valeisha Butterfield-Jones (B.A., ’00) to the global technology giant Google in January 2016. She sees her position as head of black community engagement as the perfect opportunity to advance her goals of eradicating barriers for African Americans in STEM fields and elsewhere. “Technology solves problems. It advances equality by providing access to information and opportunities that might not otherwise be available,” she says. Less than a year in, ButterfieldJones points to examples of how her role is making a difference for some African-American students. In April, she partnered with Black Girls Rock and Black Girls Code to help 100 girls become Google developers for a day. Google rewarded them with $30, 000 in scholarships. Programs like these nurture interest in STEM, among black girls who are especially under-represented in the highly competitive and lucrative field, Butterfield-Jones says, adding that there are tremendous opportunities for new HBCU graduates.
“For companies to innovate, they need diverse representation and that means you–HBCU graduates. Not only can you make a great income, but you can do work that directly aligns with your passion. Whether you are an aspiring fashion designer, music producer or want to create an app that can help eliminate social injustice, technology is the tool.” Butterfield-Jones says securing good mentorship is essential to entering the field. “It is important to connect with tech professionals who understand the demands of the work and are willing to share their journey and help you navigate your way there,” she advises. The Google in Residence programs deploys engineers to HBCU campuses to provide mentorship and help with job interview preparations, she says. “Practice and sharpen your interview + M O R E skills,” adds Butterfield-Jones. “It’s important O N L I N E to have knowledge and mentors, but you also need to nail your interview. Ultimately, that’s how you will land the job.” n
For DeCosmon Shorter, a 2016 computer information systems graduate, learning to create computer codes, means unlocking a world of opportunities to make nearly every aspect of life easier. “I always liked computers, but I thought computer science was about learning to type and word processing,” he says. “After my ‘Introduction to Computers’ class with Professor Mia Moore, I found it was not about that at all. She showed me how I can make the computer tell me what to wear, or what to cook every day, and she made me understand that everyday day items like cars, telephones, microwave ovens, television sets and remote controls are all computerized. This means a wide open field for computer science majors.” Shorter now sees his life goals firmly intertwined with computers. “I want to be a corporate recruiter in the IT sector. I want to see more African Americans in this field. Right now, we are seriously underrepresented and I want to change that,” he says. Bias against African Americans and HBCU graduates are among the barriers accounting for their underrepresentation, Shorter believes. He is confident, however, that his Clark Atlanta University education has given him a solid foundation. He laments having to turn down his first job offer in Colorado because it is far from his home state, Alabama, and offered no relocation assistance. While he awaits a new offer, he is contemplating further study and is developing an app that he believes will make a difference for one marginalized community. “Seeing homeless people has always saddened me,” he says. “My app will make it easier for them to re-enter the workforce. It will help with resumé writing, grooming, and access to donated clothing and other services that they need to get back on their feet.” Shorter says he is working on the app as a part-time project and estimates it will take him one to three years to complete. n
CLARK ATLANTA UNIVERSITY
By Grace Virtue
T Pernessa C. Seele
Moving the Balm Beyond Gilead
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he church, the center of life for many African-American communities, has a major role to play in promoting healthy lifestyles and alleviating human suffering. It seems like a simple idea, but as the HIV/AIDS epidemic swept the United States in the late 1980s, besieging communities of color, immunologist Pernessa Seele (CC, ’76; AU ’79) says that while working at Harlem Hospital she was struck by the number of people dying alone and the absence of the faith community. Like the prophet Jeremiah, she pondered: “Is there no balm in Gilead? Why…is there no healing for…my people?” Born and raised in Lincolnville, South Carolina, where “each one, help one” was a way of life, Seele’s response was: “There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole.” In 1989, she incorporated The Balm in Gilead, Inc. to encourage faith communities to play a role in the HIV/AIDS crisis. She founded The Harlem Week of Prayer, securing the participation of more than 50 churches, mosques and synagogues, as a way to unite the religious community around the crisis. It eventually grew to include more than 10,000 organizations locally and internationally. Seele, who was honored in 2008 as one of Clark Atlanta’s most successful graduates, has since broadened her focus. Her Healthy Church 2020 initiative, promotes behavior change in cultural practices that negatively impact health. “Our goal is to help churches realize what they can do, and help those in charge to do better,” she says, adding “it’s an approach to environmental sustainability specific to the human environment.” For new graduates entering the health-care field, Seele wants them to know their first responsibility is to themselves. “Be aware of and practice good nutrition, make exercise a priority and go to the doctor for regular checkups. You must be your own best example and a good one for your patients and clients.” Tenacity, compassion and sensitivity, she says, are other attributes indispensable to success in the field. n
Austin Casillas: Valedictorian Bats for Women’s Reproductive Health
Austin Casillas (B.S. ’16) vacilitates between different branches of medicine as his future career choice and a way to make a difference for minority communities. He is interested in both dermatology and oncology. When it comes to obstetrics and gynecology, however, he is certain that his passion for women’s reproductive health will dominate his future decisions. Austin, who majored in biology, and maintained a 3.94 GPA, says his initial interest in women’s reproductive health research was the result of an encounter with Jackie Ryder, assistant to the chair of CAU’s biology department, who encouraged him to apply for an internship with the Atlanta Center for Translational Research in Endometriosis, a partnership between Morehouse School of Medicine and Emory University, to promote workforce diversity and education in the field. His successful application allowed him two years of eye-opening research in endometriosis. “I began to learn about the range of diseases women face, just how much they suffer, and the disparity in care when it comes to minority women,” he says. Austin plans to continue his research in endometriosis, an often painful disorder that occurs when tissues that normally line the inside of the uterus grow outside instead. causing pain and excess bleeding during menstruation. “It is a common disease among African-American women. It is painful and often interferes with fertility. Ultimately, I want to start a nonprofit to promote awareness and encourage other people to get involved,” he explains. Austin is currently working on his father’s Arizona ranch while he studies for the MCAT and works on medical school applications. “My education has inspired me to pursue a career in medicine where I can make the biggest impact for those who need it the most,” Austin says. “Diseases like endometriosis receive little attention compared to other ‘popular’ diseases that are more mainstream, yet their health costs are comparable. I’d like to use make a difference in this area.” n
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Arts and Humanities
Rahdaysha Cummings: Student of Change
By Joyce Jones
Beyond the Hashtags
arilyn Strickland, mayor of Tacoma, Washington, didn’t set out to become an elected official. After earning an MBA from CAU in 1992, her plan was to work for a large consumer brand company or an advertising agency. But, faced with a soft economy and even softer job market, she returned home to Tacoma. In 1996, she crossed paths with Brian Ebersole, thenmayor and her former high school guidance counselor, who advised her to consider a career in politics. Strickland wasn’t interested because the current crop of elected officials didn’t reflect her or the issues she cared about. He told her that she could complain from the sidelines or get into the game. Strickland accepted his challenge, and the rest, as they say, is literally history. After winning a competitive four-way bid for an atlarge city council seat in 2007, Strickland ran for mayor two years later. “I wasn’t deeply experienced, but saw an opportunity and said if I don’t jump in now, I may never do this,” Strickland recalls. “It
was a risky proposition and a very competitive and close race, but I won.” For Strickland, who is nearing the end of her second and final term, the most fulfilling part of her job has been the opportunity to help improve lives in her community. Garbage and potholes, she notes, aren’t Democratic or Republican; people just want their legislators “to solve problems and get it done.” Strickland hopes that the deeply partisan and vitriolic divides in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail, won’t discourage young people from wanting to serve. “When people do have a chance to actually get inside and see the amount of effort and sincere desire to do good that takes place, they have a different perspective,” Strickland says. Her advice to those willing to be the change they want to see is simple. “Always be ready for the next opportunity because you never know when it’s going to come along. Be flexible and do not lose your sense of humor,” Strickland counsels. “Take yourself and your work seriously, but have a good sense of humor. If you don’t have a sense of humor, it makes the job really hard.” n
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Rahdaysha Cummings (B.A. ’16) is at the “figuring out my life stage” that many recent college graduates are experiencing. In the meantime, the political science major is currently in training with Teach for America (TFA) in Philadelphia and hopes to land a position teaching history at a school in Brooklyn, her hometown. CAU’s storied history is part of what attracted her to the University. But getting to attend was “one of the biggest battles of my life,” she says, because she had to allay her parents’ concerns about the distance and the cost. Rahdaysha won that argument, so it’s no surprise that she is seriously considering attending law school after her TFA stint has ended. A Career Day conversation with an attorney helped spark her interest in political science. She shared with Rahadaysha the ways in which the major had “taught her to look at the world differently, and made her think about how people react to laws and how certain laws affect some communities but not others.” Rahdaysha initially considered a future run for elective office. But after observing the fractious nature of politics and interning last summer at the Center for Education Reform in Washington, D.C., she’s decided that policy work may be more to her liking. “I learned a lot and got to sit in on different meetings with education lobbyists on Capitol Hill. The experience exposed me to a side of law and politics that I’d only read about,” says Rahdaysha, who was impressed by the inclusion in a major education bill later passed by Congress recommendations made by the center’s president. Then again, she says, she might also enjoy running a campaign, which is another option she’s considering. Or becoming a diplomat and seeing the world. Working on social media campaigns while interning at the Center for Education and Teach for Education raised Radaysha’s awareness. So no matter what avenue she chooses, she is certain that she wants to have a positive impact on others’ lives. “There is so much injustice in the U.S. and around the globe that it really makes me want to think about how I can make a difference and help change the world,” Rahdaysha says. n
Skyline in Tacoma, Wash. 26 CLARK ATLANTA UNIVERSITY SUMMER 2016
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Sciences and Technology Melody Thomas: Discovering the ME in Me
Technology is a People Business By David Lindsay
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orey Echols (BS ’96, MS ’98) came to CAU through a scholarship program directed by Dr. Melvin Webb that brought a lot of promising talent to the University in the 1990s. As CAU’s national alumni association vice president, Echols worked to establish the Dr. Melvin Webb engineering endowed scholarship and the new CAU Alumni Mentoring Program. He hopes that even more CAU grads can find fulfilling professional lives. He believes his own career as an engineer has been a dream come true. “Twenty years into my career I am still working in the sciences and I love it,” says Echols, who lives in the Dallas area and has just started a new position as a systems engineer with Rockwell Collins. Echols has worked with several leading government contractors in the defense and energy sectors, and has had been able to
excel in opportunities that appeal to his intellectual and personality strengths. “I always knew I wanted to be an engineer,” he says, “but I am also very entrepreneurial by nature.” Echols isn’t the stereotypical, introverted technology scientist: he likes working face-to-face with clients, and has found there is demand for engineers willing to do that in sales-related positions. Success in his field also requires having the aptitude and work ethic for research, and Echols credits his CAU graduate studies for giving him the research and development chops to create, test, tweak and re-test new ideas. Professional organizations, he adds, are great ways to network and one of the best ways to meet people who are doing the types of things you want to work toward in your career. And, establishing mentor relationships is huge on Echols’ to-do list. “As soon as possible, you should find a mentor in your first job,” he says. “If I had to go back and graduate again, I would have picked up a mentor in my field earlier.” n
Growing up in Albany, Georgia, teaching was the only prominent career choice that Melody Thomas could think of. When she arrived in Atlanta in 2011, she thought that psychology or business might also be options. Fortunately, her skills in math and science stood out enough her freshman year that she was steered toward CAU’s dual-degree engineering program. For the past two years, she has been in Indianapolis, finishing the latter part of the program to earn bachelor’s degrees in physics and mechanical engineering (ME) from CAU and Purdue University, respectively. The experience has truly opened her eyes to possibilities she had not previously considered. And, Thomas has already turned an internship into a full-time job in Indiana. “There are so many jobs students don’t think about when planning a career,” Melody says. “I’ve shown that people can become whatever they want to become.” While at Purdue, she has turned an internship at Jacobs Engineering into a full-time job and is discovering that there are a variety of interesting jobs within the field. Her first tasks involved on-site work at construction job sites where she was one of the few women in a hardhat and work boots. Being on site gave her a good understanding of what happens when construction crews execute an engineer’s vision, but now she has purposefully moved into a project management position. The move will enable her to prove she has the smarts and organizational and relationshipbuilding skills to work with clients and ensure that construction teams are running on time and on budget. Melody has still more dreams for her career, including possibly pursuing a degree or certificate in audio engineering. She chose mechanical engineering knowing that it is a broader field that offers more job opportunities, but isn’t ruling out producing music, either full-time or parttime, in the future. “I definitely have a passion for music,” she says. “My name is Melody after all!” n
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Ideas That Matter
In This Timely Think Piece, Congressman Hank Johnson (B.A., ‘76) Ponders the Unholy Link
Guns, Money in Politics, and Homegrown Terrorism
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he easy availability of high-powered weapons, like the Sig Sauer MCX assault rifle used to kill 49 patrons at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub on June 12 and wounded 53 others, and the increasing frequency and scope of these incidents, have become one of America’s most intractable problems. It has stoked fear in the population and earned the United States the unsavory reputation as the most violent among advanced nations. Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson (B.A., ‘76) says the problem is the result of a toxic combination of homegrown terrorism, untreated mental illness, and too much private money in politics. The problem is complex, he says, and requires a multi-pronged approach involving diplomacy, appropriate legislation to cut off the flow of private money into the political process that gives groups like the National Rifle Association too much influence over public policy, and efforts to address the hopelessness and alienation that too many people experience in America. “When it becomes easier to buy guns than it is to board an aircraft, things are out of balance,” he says. “The NRA underwrites lobby efforts and they are influencing voters.” Johnson argues that while the Second Amendment gives people the right to buy and sell arms, there are common-sense limits to those rights, and that something more sinister than a desire to preserve the Second Amendment is driving the explosion of gun violence in the country and Congress’ inability to do anything about it. “Policymakers need to come out from under the grip of the NRA. We need to get this money out of politics and it is going to take an informed public to make that happen,” the Georgia Democrat says. Johnson is among progressive politicians who have been unrelenting in their efforts to enact common-sense gun control legislation. Three days after the Orlando massacre, the worst mass shooting in American history, he joined House Judiciary Committee Democrats in urging congressional action on gun violence. In November 2013, he introduced the Airport Security Act to “prohibit certain individuals from possessing a firearm in an airport, and for other purposes.” And, in 2015, he co-sponsored The Gun Trafficking Prevention Act, a bill that would help security forces combat the flow of firearms to violent criminals, international drug cartels, and other dangerous people. Its introduction followed mass shootings over the past five years, including Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012, when 20 first graders and six adults were killed; the Charleston, S.C, attack on a historic African-American church on June 17, 2015, when nine people participating in bible study were killed; San Bernardino, California, when on Dec. 2, 2015 14 people were killed; and recent shootings in Orlando, Minneapolis and Dallas. “We have a situation now where secret money is decimating the lives of the people. We cannot continue to elect policymakers who are not interested in making people’s lives better,” Johnson says. “We have to create the conditions for change by electing representatives who are against excessive private money in politics and opposed to oppression and subjugation of all kinds.” n
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Th e C l a r k A t l a n t a U n i v e r s i t y B o a r d o f Tr u s t e e s I n v i t e You t o t h e I n augu r at ion o f
R onald a. Johnson, Ph.d. a s t h e U n i v e r s i t y ’s F o u r t h P r e s i d e n t
O c t o b e r 7 - 9 , 2 016 P r e si de n t i a l Sy m p o si a I n v e st i t u r e P r e si de n t i a l S chol a r sh i p Ga l a Wor sh i p Se rv ic e
F r i day, O c t obe r 7, 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. Sat u r day, O c t obe r 8, 11 a.m. Sat u r day, O c t obe r 8, 6 p.m. Su n day, O c t obe r 9 , 10 : 4 5 a.m.
“Lifting Every Voice”