Four African Americans Who Are Leaving Their High-Level Posts at State Universities

Ellen Smiley, provost at Grambling State University in Louisiana, has resigned from her university-wide leadership position to focus on her role as dean of the Earl Lester Cole Honors College. She first joined Grambling State in 1991 and has held various administrative and faculty appointments over the course of her career.

Dr. Smiley holds a bachelor’s degree in radio and television communication and a master’s degree in teaching with an emphasis on sociology both from Grambling State University, and a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Neema Connor, associate athletic director for compliance and senior woman administrator at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, has announced she is stepping down from her position. She first joined the the university community in 2001 as a graduate assistant in academic advising and worked her way up the ranks to her current role. Some of her previous positions include assistant to the athletic director, coordinator of student athlete service, and assistant NCAA compliance officer.

Connor holds a master’s degree in criminology and criminal justice from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Dana Brooks, dean of the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences at West Virginia University, has announced he will retire on June 30, 2019. He began his career at the university as a graduate teaching assistant in the 1970s. His other positions include instructor, minority recruitment and retention coordinator, acting graduate coordinator, acting chairperson, and associate dean. In 1992, he was named interim dean of the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences and he became permanent dean a year later. His leadership helped expand the college’s degree programs, infrastructure, and faculty development. As an academic, his research has focused on professional issues in sport psychology, including ethics, supervision, and mentoring, as well as the history of sports integration and the African American sport experience.

Dr. Brooks is the co-editor of Racism in College Athletics : The African American Athlete’s Experience, and co-editor of Diversity and Social Justice in College Sports: Sport Management and the Student Athlete.

Melvin Leon Heard, a professor in the department of mathematics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has announced his retirement after 52 years with the university. He has been the only African American faculty member in the history of the math department at the university. In addition to teaching he also serves as assistant dean in the College of Liberal Arts.

Dr. Heard is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. He holds a Ph.D. from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

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