Reaching the Mountaintop of the Academy

Personal Narratives, Advice and Strategies From Black Distinguished and Endowed Professors

Edited by:
Gail L. Thompson, Fayetteville State University
Fred A. Bonner II, Prairie View A&M University
Chance W. Lewis, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

A volume in the series: Contemporary Perspectives on Access, Equity, and Achievement. Editor(s): Chance W. Lewis, University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Published 2015

Since the U.S. Civil Rights era, the racial composition of higher education has changed dramatically, resulting in an increase in the number of African American students and African American faculty in predominantly white institutions (PWI). Nevertheless, the number of African American endowed or distinguished professors remains small.

Because it is difficult for African American faculty to attain these prized positions, those who have done so possess invaluable knowledge that may be beneficial to others. Reaching the Mountaintop of the Academy: Personal Narratives, Advice and Strategies from Black Distinguished and Endowed Professors, fills an important niche in the canon of higher education literature. In the autobiographical chapters that follow, numerous distinguished and endowed professors (1) describe their personal journey to the distinguished or endowed professorship; (2) explain important life lessons that they learned during their journey; (3) describe their current professional goals; and (4) offer suggestions and recommendations for graduate students, untenured faculty, tenured faculty, and college/university administrators. At a time when many predominantly white higher education institutions continue to have difficulty attracting and retaining African American faculty, and African American faculty continue to struggle for full inclusion in the academy, this book is timely and needed.

Introduction: African Americans’ Ongoing “Thirst for Knowledge”, Gail L. Thompson. The Race is Not Given: My Scholarly Personal Narrative on the Journey to Endowed Chair, Fred A. Bonner II. Overcoming the “You’re Too Young for a Distinguished Professorship and Endowed Chair” Phenomenon: Naysayers vs. Destiny, Chance W. Lewis. Knowledge, Wisdom, and Favor: Losing Some Battles, but Winning the War, Norvella P. Carter. Success Through Chance, Opportunity, and Preparedness, Veronica Evans Lewis. Reaching Distinction Through Striking a Balance, Marilyn E. Strutchens. W. E. B. and Me: The Soul of a Black Academic, Gloria Ladson‐Billings. From Steel Cities to Ivory Towers, Floyd D. Beachum. Faith, Hard Work, and Persistence: How a Child Who Grew Up on Welfare Became an Endowed Professor, Gail L. Thompson. This Girl is on Fire ... and so is the Kitchen!: The Real Balance of Wife–Mommy–Scholar, Allyson L. Watson. Pressing Toward Equity for Black Children: A Tenacious Journey, H. Richard Milner IV. Epilogue: African American Distinguished and Endowed Professors Paving the Path for the Next Generation: An Epilogue, Chance W. Lewis and Fred A. Bonner II.