Women's History Month: Top 25 Women in Higher Education

By Hayes, Dianne | Diverse Issues in Higher Education, March 14, 2013 | Go to article overview

Women's History Month: Top 25 Women in Higher Education


Hayes, Dianne, Diverse Issues in Higher Education


We salute and honor a diverse group of women who have made signifant contributions in higher education from administration, science, nonprofit organizations and sports.

Dr. Helen Benjamin

Chancellor, Contra Costa Community College District

Dr. Helen Benjamin has made a real impact in her eight years as chancellor of the Contra Costa Community College district. She has held progressively higherlevel positions, including district vice chancellor of educational programs and services, interim president of Los Medaños College and president of Contra Costa College, since joining the district in 1990 as dean of language arts and humanistic studies and related occupations at Los Medaños College.

She serves in a variety of professional and community organizations around the district. Her national posts include convener of the Presidents' Round Table, an affiliate organization of the National Council on Black American Affairs, and co-chair of the Congressional Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance. In addition, she serves on the board of Excelsior College located in Albany, N.Y.

Benjamin has a bachelor's degree in English and Spanish from Bishop College in Texas, where she graduated magna cum laude, and she earned her master's and doctoral degrees from Texas Woman's University in Denton, Texas.

Sarita E. Brown

President, Excelencia in Education

Sarita E. Brown serves as president of the nonprofit Excelencia in Education, established with the goal of accelerating Latino success in higher education. Brown has spent more than two decades at prominent national educational institutions and at the highest levels of government, working to implement effective strategies to raise academic achievement and opportunity for low-income and minority students.

She started her career at the University of Texas at Austin by building a national model promoting minority success in graduate education. In 1993, Brown was appointed as executive director of the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans under President Bill Clinton and U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley. She later applied her talents and experience to the not-for-profit sector, and in 2004, she cofounded Excelencia in Education.

In 2009, she was honored with the Harold G. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education for her "innovative thinking, strong leadership and accomplishment by example." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in ethnic studies and a Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in communication from the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Valeria P. Fleming

Professor of Biology, Fayetteville State University

With 50 years of teaching, Dr. Valeria P. Fleming is the longestserving university employee and is among state workers with the greatest length of service at one institution. Fleming is known as a teacher of life sciences and life lessons. Many of her students have had great success as medical doctors, teachers, researchers, and in other science-related fields.

She is warmly regarded and is seen as an invaluable resource at Fayetteville State and in the greater science community. She has received grants and support from the Rockefeller Foundation, National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation Advanced Study Fellowship and University of North Carolina Board of Governor's Advanced Study Fellowship. In addition, she has received recognition including the Top Fifty Minority Women Scientist Award, National Technical Association Faculty Award for Significant Contributions to the Development of Chestnut Library at Fayetteville State, Sponsored Research Award and Grantsmanship Award.

Peggy Davis

Athletic Director, Virginia State University

In her eighth year as athletic director at Virginia State University, Peggy Davis continues to enhance a proud legacy of caring leadership. Davis is a two-time hall of fame recipient (at Virginia State and Howard Payne universities), and has been named Athletic Director of the Year of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) four of the last five years. …

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