Johnnetta Betsch Cole, president emerita of Spelman College in Atlanta and president emerita of Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, will receive the Rosa Parks Award from the American Association for Access, Equity, and Diversity. The Rosa Parks Award recognizes an individual who serves as a role model and leader for others through his or her personal achievements and excellence in a chosen field; commitment to human, civil rights, and social issues; and contributions to the betterment of society. Dr. Cole will be honored at the association’s 45th National Conference and Annual Meeting on June 12, 2019.
Dr. Cole currently serves as a principal consultant with Cook Ross, Inc., a consulting firm in Silver Spring, Maryland. She was a senior consulting fellow for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She also served for eight years as director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.
Dr. Cole has had an extensive career in higher education. She is the only woman to serve as president of both Spelman and Bennett Colleges, the only historically Black colleges for women in the United States. She is also a professor emerita at Emory University in Atlanta, where she served as the Presidential Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Women’s Studies, and African American studies.
A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Dr. Cole enrolled at Fisk University in Nashville at the age of 15. She transferred and completed her bachelor’s degree at Oberlin College in Ohio. Dr. Cole earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in anthropology with a focus on African studies from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Additionally, she has received 68 honorary degrees.