Notable Honors and Awards for Six African Americans in Higher Education

Nafissa Thompson-Spires, an assistant professor of English, African American studies, and Jewish culture and society at the University of Illinois, has won a 2019 Whiting Award in fiction. Her first book, Heads of the Colored People (Atria, 2018), was long-listed for the 2018 National Book Award, the PEN/ Robert W. Bingham Award, the PEN Open Book Award, and the Aspen Words Literary Prize, and was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize. As an academic she specializes in creative fiction writing, television studies, and 20th-century American literature.

Dr. Thompson-Spires holds a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. in English from Vanderbilt University.

Gregory S. Carr, an instructor of speech and theatre at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, has received the 2019 Missouri Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education. He is being honored for his undergraduate teaching skills, effective student advising, service to the college community, and commitment to high standards of excellence.

Professor Carr is a graduate of the now-closed Tarkio College in Missouri where he majored in theatre. He holds a master of fine arts degree in theatre from the University of Illinois.

Tayari Jones, a professor of English and creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta, has received an NAACP Image Award for her novel, An American Marriage (Algonquin Books, 2018). The awards celebrate the accomplishments of people of color in the fields of television, music, literature, and film, as well as people or groups who promote social justice or creative endeavors.

Professor Jones is a graduate of Spelman College in Atlanta, the University of Iowa, and Arizona State University.

Jamilla Lyiscott, an assistant professor of social justice education at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, has received the Outstanding Public Communication of Education Research Award from the American Educational Research Association. The annual award recognizes collaborative projects between researchers and practitioners that have had sustained and observed effects on the contexts of practice.

Dr. Lyiscott holds a master’s degree in Black literature from Hunter College of the City University of New York and a Ph.D. in English education with a focus on African diasporic education from Columbia University.

Wilma Mishoe, president of Delaware State University, received the Sankofa Golden Phenomenal Woman Award from the Inner City Cultural League of Dover. She was honored for her long career in higher education and for becoming the first woman to serve as president of Delaware State University.

Dr. Mishoe holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in student personnel administration, guidance, and counseling both from Howard University. She earned a doctorate in adult/vocational education from Temple University in Philadelphia.

Vinette Gordon, director of student health services at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina, has received the John L. Sanders Students Advocate Award. The award is bestowed annually on one or more public figures for service to the students of the University of North Carolina, to recognize those who advocate for the best interests of North Carolina’s students and thereby contribute to the quality of their lives.

Gordon is a graduate of the Medical College of Virginia where she majored in nursing. She holds a master’s degree in critical care clinical nursing from Duke University in North Carolina.

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