Cole is a scholar, author and activist for social and economic justice. As director of the National Museum of African Art since 2009, she oversees a collection of more than 10,000 objects of various media and art forms.
Previously, she was president of Bennett College and Spelman College, making history in 1987 as the first African American woman to lead Spelman. She also was the first African American to serve as chair of the board of United Way of America, from 2004 to 2006, and the first woman on the board of Coca-Cola Enterprises.
She currently serves on the scholarly advisory board for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, the construction of which will be completed on the National Mall by 2015. She also is chair of the board of the Johnnetta B. Cole Global Diversity and Inclusion Institute at Bennett College.
Cole, who started college at age 15, has a master’s degree and doctorate in anthropology from Northwestern University. She has held teaching positions at several schools, including Emory University.
She has been awarded more than 50 honorary degrees and has received numerous awards, including the Joseph Prize for Human Rights, presented by the Anti-Defamation League, and the Otis Social Justice Award from Wheaton in 2010. That year she also was named one of Ebony magazine’s 100 most influential African Americans. The American Council on Education awarded her the Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award in March 2013.
In May, Cole will receive an honorary degree at Commencement, as will Ronald A. Crutcher and four of Wheaton’s distinguished alumnae/i: [Read more...]