Four Black Men Earn Doctoral Degrees From One Department at Ohio State

Each year, only about 1,000 African Americans men earn doctoral degrees in the United States. Last month, JBHE posted an article on four Black men who were awarded doctoral degrees from one academic department a Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

Now this accomplishment has been repeated at Ohio State University. Four Black men earned doctorates this spring in the College of Education and Human Ecology under the mentorship of Dr. Terrell Strayhorn, the youngest full professor in Ohio State’s history (See JBHE post). This is the first time that four Black men have earned doctorates in the same department in the university’s history.

Drs. Johnson, Long, Strayhorn, Tillman-Kelly.
Drs. Johnson, Long, Strayhorn, Tillman-Kelly and Suddeth.

Here are brief biographies of the four new doctorate degree holders in educational studies from Ohio State.

Royel Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and master’s degree in education policy from the University of Illinois. His doctoral dissertation examined the influence that early arrest plays on Black males’ odds for college enrollment. He works as policy analyst in the Center for Higher Education Enterprise at Ohio State.

Leroy Long earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from The Ohio State University. His dissertation explored the influence of technology adoption and use on first-year engineering students’ academic success. This fall, Dr. Long will be a tenure-track assistant professor of engineering education at Embry-Riddle University in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Todd Suddeth earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Akron and master’s degree in public policy from The Ohio State University. His doctoral dissertation examined the career decision-making processes of Black male college students. His research won the 2015 Loadman Dissertation of the Year Award. He works as a program director in the Todd Bell National Resource Center at Ohio State.

Derrick Tillman-Kelly earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington and a master’s in degree higher education from Indiana University. His dissertation focused on identity label adoption and usage among gay college students of color. He works as special assistant to the director in the Center for Higher Education Enterprise at Ohio State.

Related Articles


  1. Slight error in this report, Dr. Long was in a different program-STEM Education, different department-Department of Teaching and Learning, and was co-advised by Dr. Strayhorn. His major advisor was Paul Post. The other three were in the Higher Education Student Affairs program, in the Educational Studies Department

  2. Feeling proud, yet saddened, that the fact that four African American Men graduating with their PhDs from one department at OSU is a newsworthy event. We have come far, but not far enough. My hope is that more will follow en force such that this becomes normative, not the exception.

    • I agree, and I am encouraged that these men have achieved the highest level of education in their field. It is my hope that many more will follow.

  3. Congratulations to each of you! May God continue to guide and strengthen you on your journeys! Please reach back and mentor one … Let them always see , if you can do it, so can they!

    • I agree and also extend my congradulations to the graduates but mostly to Professor. As a retired college faculty person, I know this took courage as others will not want to see this ever happening again and will therefore “clip his wings”. Let’s make sure we also support Professor Strayhorn in his continue academic career.

      • I concur. My concern was for their advisor who guided these four young men on their journey. In academia, he has a target, for sure, on his back. He knows this. We’re just letting others know. Yet, we will always prosper when we believe and do the work.

  4. Great job, gentlemen!! Keep on keeping on. Mentoring some of our young men will help continue the positive self image some need help finding and holding on to.

  5. This is FANTASTIC news and a great accomplishment by all. I got a chance to meet and see Dr. Strayhorn a few years back at NCORE in New Orleans. Just from our brief interaction, he seemed like a great mentor. Now, his leadership has helped produce 4 new leaders in such an important and impactful field.

  6. Congratulations Brothers!!! Welcome to the world-wide community of Scholars-Practitioners & Researchers!! May your collective and individual journeys’ be guided by the will and desire to serve. The residuals will come after the commitment is made, I assure you.

    Yours in the struggle,

    Charles W. Richburg, III, Ed.D.
    Richburg Career Services, Inc.
    (914) 368-0241
    “When you help others get what they need and want, you can experience and understand the meaning of, “The Reciprocal Flow of Abundance.”
    Charles W. Richburg, III 2009

    “One who seeks peace must never do so by violating their spiritual conscience; to do so is a form of oppression.”
    Dr. Charles W. Richburg, III 2013

    • Come on man, why are you making their accomplishment about you? What is with all your self-promotion, just say congrats and leave it at that. Did you really just post your own quotes? LOL, who does that?

  7. Proud of these brilliant men. In the future, we would hope more men of color who finish in bulk, finish in diverse disciplines. Engineering, business, etc. ….

    • I am very proud of the accomplishments of those men too. I noted your reference to other disciplines such as STEM. Let share this information with you. On Wednesday (June 17, 2015) morning at 9:30 a.m., Jalaal A. Hayes who is a 22 years old African American male Ph.D. candidate will defend his doctoral dissertation for a Ph.D. degree in Applied Physical Chemistry at Delaware State University in Dover, Delaware.

      This young man who is a United States Department of Energy Doctoral Fellow has further distinguished himself with his stellar cutting edge doctoral research. He has presented research papers at the Gordon International Research Conferences in his specialty area which is Hydrogen Energy Storage Systems and is a co-holder of a U.S. Patent. In addition, he has published research papers in some of the leading scientific refereed journals.

      He will probably be one of the youngest individual to earn a Ph.D. in Applied Physical Chemistry in nation this year.

  8. You have my Blessings…You have proven it can be done…..Hopefully, other young Men will be able to attend who desires such with looking at you 4′.And You are Accepted in All areas with in Yuri out paths & life’.Build a Solid Foundation that You Can create as Your Own..

  9. Congratulations. This is wonderful. Please post this picture and story to the website “we can because of them”
    It is covering the Accomplishments of African American graduates from all disciplines. You deserve to be acknowledged in as many venues as are available. I applaud you in advance with all gratitude for the work you will contribute to the community.

  10. Hopefully these wonderful young men will now reach down, at the grassroots level, and bring up those in the African-American community who do not have the opportunity and the resources to be awared such prestigious allocades. God bless all of you for your academic committment.

  11. Congratulations Gentlemen……Each One, Teach One….. I will be posting this article on my Facebook page as well as many other sites I subscribe to as MOTIVATION to Educate and Prosper….Well Done, Well Earned

  12. I would like to congratulate the four young men for job well done. Ohio State and your professors I am sure are very happy about the futures of these four young men.

    I am very very proud of all of you.

  13. Congratulations to these awesome gentlemen!!! I stumbled across this as I was compiling some information for my dissertation. Thank you for the inspiration to keep on keeping on!!! God Bless you all and everyone who inspire others to achieve great things and add to the world of academia.

  14. Want to echo prior comments and congratulate these 4 new PhDs and their professor/advisor/mentor, Dr. Strayhorn, whose research and work has been cited extensively in the literature including my own work. As a university president and former academic, I can attest to how significant this achievement is for the students and their professor. Would welcome the opportunity to talk to any of you about academic jobs at my institution and it would be a honor to have someone of Strayhorn’s caliber on my faculty. Congrats to all!

  15. I am so proud of you Fab Four. When I was in the classroom I pushed my young men and told them that their superior minds needed to be developed so they could accomplish great things and I pray that they somehow read or learn about you and your success. Keep on keeping on.

  16. Thank you for sharing information about these wonderful accomplishments by young African American men. Congratulations! Also, it was wonderful to read a contributor’s comments that informed us about Dr. Jamaal ___, who not only earned the doctorate at the age of 22, but has been active in sharing important research results at major conferences!

  17. You can call me racist if you want….but why is the descriptive word “Black” used in this headline? I just see men. (Congratulations to all for your dedication and hard work). If we all want the ‘racism’ to disappear (because we all know there is no such thing as different races….only one human race.) Then we need to STOP using color descriptions for ALL people. All sides of the equation. It’s hypocritical.

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

All in the Family

Nelson Mandela once stated, “Education is the most powerful weapon we have to change the world.” One family that has taken that sentiment to heart is the Millet family.

National Science Foundation Awards AI Research Grants to Four HBCUs

The National Science Foundation has awarded ExpandAI grants to Bowie State University, Savannah State University, Alabama A&M State University, and Clark Atlanta University. The funding aims to advance diversity and inclusion in artificial intelligence research.

Recent Books of Interest to African American Scholars

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education regularly publishes a list of new books that may be of interest to our readers. The books included are on a wide variety of subjects and present many different points of view.

Online Articles That May Be of Interest to JBHE Readers

Each week, JBHE will provide links to online articles that may be of interest to our readers. Here are this week’s selections.

Featured Jobs