Former president of Shaw University to be summer commencement speaker


TUSKEGEE, Ala. (July 10, 2014) — Dr. Dorothy Cowser Yancy, President Emerita at Shaw and Johnson C. Smith Universities, will address Tuskegee graduates for the 2014 summer commencement exercises. This year’s service will be held Aug. 1 at 10 a.m. in University Chapel.

The summertime ceremony will be the first Tuskegee graduation where new university president, Dr. Brian Johnson, will preside. Johnson is the author of “The Yancy Years: the Age of Infrastructure, Technology and Restoration.” Published in 2008, the book is the official institutional and presidential history of Yancy's tenure at the helm of Johnson C. Smith University. 

“In Dr. Yancy’s first year as president of Johnson C. Smith University (1994), I had the distinct honor of being mentored by her as a student leader and in the 14th year of her presidency (2008), I had the honor of returning and serving my alma mater as associate professor of English and associate vice president for academic affairs. This appointment was particularly meaningful for me because I was able to write her 14 year presidential history, spanning my time as a student to professor to administrator,” Johnson said.

Yancy, a native of Alabama, is the 14th and 16th president of Shaw University. She was the 12th president of Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU). She retired from Shaw University on December 31, 2013. 

At Shaw from 2009-2010, she was able to stabilize the financial state of the university by securing a $31 million federal loan. She restructured and refinanced the university’s debt, balanced the budget and recruited one of the largest freshmen classes in the history of the university. She retired September 2010. 

She returned to Shaw on September 1, 2011 after the campus had been torn apart by the April 16, 2011 tornado. By April 16, 2012, the devastation had been abated and all buildings were back in use. She also led the university through five program accreditation reviews and the regular SACSCOC reaffirmation. 

As president of JCSU from October 1994 to June 2008, Dr. Yancy marshaled phenomenal growth and progress. During this period, she completed two significant capital campaigns and was heralded as one of the best fundraisers nationally. From 1994 to 2008, she raised more than $145 million for the university. Additionally, during her tenure, the JCSU endowment more than tripled from $14 million to $53 million. In 1996, the university was awarded the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant. JCSU is the only HBCU that has received this grant. In addition, JCSU was the first HBCU to become an IBM “Thinkpad” University.

In scholarship, as well as in leadership, Dr. Yancy has excelled. She has published more than 40 articles and labor arbitration cases in academic journals. Currently, she serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of Morehouse College, the Board of Trustees of St. Augustine’s College, an Individual Member of the United Negro College Fund, and a member of the USA Fund HBCU Advisory Committee. 

She is listed as an arbitrator with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services, the National Mediation Board and the American Arbitration Association. She also is a Special Magistrate with the Florida Public Employee Relations Commission.

She has received numerous awards and accolades. In 2002, she was inducted into the most prestigious honor society in the nation, the Delta of Georgia Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and in 2013 she was the recipient of the Dr. Dorothy I. Height Leadership Award from the International Salute to the Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., Washington, D.C.

In October, 2013, the Board of Trustees at Shaw University named the research building the Dorothy Cowser Yancy Building. She is also the chair of The Links, Incorporated HBCU Initiative. On December 5, 2013, she was inducted into the Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine’s Hall of Fame in Education and on March 15, 2014, she was awarded the Leaders and Legends Award by the Georgia Tech Black Alumni Organization. 

Yancy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and social science from Johnson C. Smith University, a Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a Ph.D. in political science from Atlanta University (Georgia), with further study at the University of Singapore, Hampton University, Northeastern Illinois University (Chicago), Northwestern University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has been awarded honorary doctorates from Virginia State University and Shaw University. She earned certificates in management development from Harvard University.

© 2014 Tuskegee University

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