Monday, November 10, 2014
Johnnetta Betsch Cole-1st African-American Female President of Spelman College,
Johnnetta Betsch Cole is an American anthropologist, educator and museum director. Cole was the 1st African-American Female President of Spelman College, a historically black college, serving from 1987 to 1997. She was President of Bennett College from 2002 to 2007. Since 2009, she has been Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art, located in Washington, DC. Johnnetta was born in Florida in 1936. She is a granddaughter of Florida's 1st black millionaire Abraham Lincoln Lewis and Mary Kingsley Sammis. Cole enrolled at age 15 in Fisk University, a historically black college. She transferred to Oberlin College in Ohio, where she completed a B.A. in anthropology in 1957. She did field research in Liberia, West Africa in 1960-61. She attended graduate school at Northwestern University, earning her masters (1959) and Ph.D. (1967) in anthropology. Cole taught briefly at UCLA (1964) and directed the Black Studies program at Washington State University at Pullman (1969–70). She started in 1970 in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she served until 1983. She also was provost of undergraduate education from 1981 to 1983. While at the University of Massachusetts, she played a pivotal role in the development of the university's W.E.B. Du Bois Department of African-American Studies. In 1987, Cole was selected as the 1st black female president of Spelman College, a prestigious historically black college for women. She served until 1997. Cole is currently the Chair of the The Johnnetta B. Cole Global Diversity & Inclusion Institute founded at Bennett College for Women. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority. She was a director of Merck & Co. since 1994. She is the 1st woman elected to the board of Coca Cola. From 2004 to 2006, Cole was the Chair of the Board of Trustees of United Way of America and is on the Board of Directors of the United Way of Greater Greensboro. since 2002. In 2013, the Winston-Salem Chronicle described Cole as a distinguished educator, cultural anthropologist, and humanitarian.