First Annual Think Tank Convenes Minority Education Experts at Rutgers

Inequity in education was the primary topic of focus at the first annual Samuel DeWitt Proctor Endowed Chair Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Deans’ Think Tank at Rutgers University this July.

Guided by the mission “Promoting Potential through Partnerships” which was drafted by Dr. Fred A. Bonner as the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Chair in Education at the Graduate School of Education, this was the first of a series of annual Think Tanks events. The Think Tank brought together 10 experts in the field of minority education – many of whom are deans of Historically Black Colleges or Universities.  The goal of the event was to collaborate in an effort to increase discussion on the state of Black education in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and more broadly, throughout the nation. The even was facilitated by Dr. James Earl Davis, Interim Dean of the College of Education at Temple University; Dr. Chance W. Lewis, the Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professor and Endowed Chair of Urban Education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Dr. Cynthia A. Tyson, 

Professor in the School of Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University.

“The purpose of the Think Tank was two-fold, to engage these Deans in a critical discussion about the status of Black education in the US” explained Dr. Bonner,  “and to underscore the nuances specific to their roles as Deans in the HBCU context.” 


Topics of discussion at the Think Tank included focus on Black males in pre-school through graduate school education environments, returning veterans and implications for HBCUs, and the national shortage of Black teachers.   One overarching theme consistently mentioned throughout the discussion was readiness. Many of the deans and experts questioning how ready everyone (parents, students, teachers, and HBCU education programs) really is to prepare students to excel in their education.


Attendees of the event will continue the dialogue through a blog site managed by Dr. Bonner.  Additionally, Dr.s Lewis, Tyson and Mr. Davis are compiling a white paper from the event’s discussions and the Think Tank participants will be contributing to a book that will be the first in a series focusing on these yearly Think Tank events. The group will meet at the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education (AABHE) in Spring 2013; they are also currently drafting a proposal for AERA that focuses on the Think Tank.


Learn more about the Think Tank participants below.


About Dr. Bonner

Dr. Fred A. Bonner, II, is the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Chair in Education at Rutgers University. He received a B.A. degree in chemistry from the University of North Texas, an M.S. Ed. in curriculum and instruction from Baylor University and an Ed.D. in higher education administration and college teaching from the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville. He has received the American Association for Higher Education Black Caucus Dissertation Award and the Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Foundation’s Dissertation of the Year Award from the University of Arkansas College of Education. His published works focus on academically gifted African American male college students, teaching in the multicultural college classroom, diversity issues in student affairs, and success factors influencing the retention of students of color in higher education. Also, Dr. Bonner has been awarded a $1 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant that focuses on factors influencing the success of high achieving African American students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines in Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 


Learn more about the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Chair in Education by visiting


Think Tank Speakers

Dr. Richard De Lisi, Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers, whose main interests focus on developmental psychology, especially cognitive development and sex-role development. 


Dr. Penelope Lattimer, Director of the Rutgers Institute for Improving Student Achievement (RIISA). Dr. Lattimer’s achievements include national and international presentations for organizations such as ASCD, NAACP, and state and national business organizations. 


Dorothy S. Strickland, the inaugural holder of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Chair in Education, Emerita of Rutgers University and Distinguished Research Fellow of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). Among an admirable list of achievements and former held positions, Dr. Strickland was most recently (April 2010) awarded IRA’s William S. Gray Citation of Merit.


Think Tank Facilitators

Dr. James Earl Davis is Interim Dean of the College of Education at Temple University, a professor in higher education and former chair in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. He has investigated social contexts of learning, including various school settings with a concern for how gender and race are related to students’ achievement and engagement, particularly African American boys and young men.  


Dr. Chance W. Lewis is the Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professor and Endowed Chair of Urban Education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, as well as the Executive Director of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Urban Education Collaborative, which is publishing a new generation of research on improving urban schools.


Dr. Cynthia A. Tyson is a Professor in the School of Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University where she teaches courses in Multicultural and Equity Studies in Education, Early Childhood Social Studies and Multicultural Children’s Literature.  She has won several awards over her career and her work is both nationally and internationally recognized. 


Think Tank Participants

Dr. Melanie Carter is currently the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Programs and Student Affairs and associate professor of Educational Administration and Policy at the Howard University School of Education. Dr. Carter has more than twenty-five years of combined experience as an administrator in academic affairs, student affairs, and as a faculty member having held appointments at five institutions. 


Dr. Charlie Gibbons is the Associate Dean in the College of Education at Alabama State University and has scholarly and practical experiences across several disciplinary areas including history/political science, physical education and health promotion.


Dr. Marsha T. Horton is the newly appointed Dean for the Evelyn Syphax School of Education, Psychology and Interdisciplinary Studies at Virginia Union University. She is a Consultant in the areas of assessment, accountability and public policy. Dr. Horton was named a Living the Legacy Honoree by the National Council of Negro Women and on two different occasions, was honored as an Outstanding Young Woman of America. 


Dr. Andrew Jarimeh Kanu is a Professor at Virginia State University and currently serves as the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Education. His areas of professional interest include: Program planning and evaluation, NCATE/AHHE accreditation, higher education leadership, minority health, and minority health disparities. 


Dr. Kimberly King-Jupiter is Dean of the College of Education and Associate Professor in Counseling and Educational Leadership at Albany State University in Albany, Georgia. Her research interests include examinations of the relationship between educational equity and race, class and gender in K-12 and higher education settings. 


Dr. Leontye L. Lewis is Professor and Dean of the School of Education at Fayetteville State University. Among many recognitions and awards, Dr. Lewis has received the Outstanding Alumni/Presidential Award from NAFEO, Outstanding Administrator and Faculty Awards from Coppin State University and was nominated for the NAFEO Noble Prize. 


Dr. Curtis E. Martin is the Dean in the College of Education at Alabama A&M University. His scholarship is positioned at the intersection of cultural diversity, standards-based reform, and teacher education and has received several awards for teaching excellence. 


Dr. Lillian B. Poats is the Dean of the College of Education at Texas Southern University and Director of Certification for the College of Education. She also currently serves as Vice President for Administration of the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education (AABHE).


Dr. Sean S. Warner, is the Dean of the School of Education of Clark Atlanta University. He recently served on a panel with other Georgia deans of education to discuss dropout prevention strategies. Dr. Warner is a pragmatist who believes in transformative educational experiences and innovative thinking. 


Dr. Daniel Watkins is the Dean of the College of Education and Human Development at Jackson State University. He is the driving force behind the COEHD’s effort to connect with cutting edge endeavors with Educational Testing Service, Teachers for a New Era, and the Renaissance Group. Dr. Watkins has laid the foundation in the COEHD to implement strategies and research along with P-12 on dropout prevention, literacy and wellness.