Celebrating Black History Month
By Dr. Ward Ulmer, Interim President of Walden University
Black History Month gives us much to reflect on. How far we’ve come, and how far we have to go. At Walden, we are proud that so many African American students choose us to help them earn their doctorate. In fact, Walden ranks No. 1 among U.S. institutions for awarding doctorates to African Americans.* They are advancing their careers in education, nursing, management, public policy, psychology, and other fields while paying it forward by making a difference in their communities and industries.
Looking back to the 1976-77 academic year, just six years after Walden held its first PhD residency for working professionals, the number of doctorates awarded to African Americans across the United States was 3,575—just 4% of the overall total. Fast forward to the 2016-17 academic year and the number of African Americans earning doctorates was 14,067, representing nearly 8% of the degrees earned.
It’s progress, but the overall number is still too low, especially in a world that needs more scholar-practitioners who have the academic preparation to create and apply knowledge that makes a difference in their communities. With a doctorate comes the research skills, the personal and professional achievement, the credibility, and, at Walden, the ability and responsibility to be a change agent.
Look at what just a few of our Outstanding Alumni Award recipient doctoral graduates are accomplishing:
- Dr. Avon Hart-Johnson earned two degrees at Walden and returned to teach and keynote our recent doctoral hooding. She’s using her PhD to research mass incarceration and provide crisis intervention and resources to families affected by it through her nonprofit, DC Project Connect.
- Dr. Lovely Thornton is a faculty member at Towson University and founder of the Sensible Women Initiative, which helps young ladies cultivate decision-making skills.
- Dr. Walter McCollum, our dean of student affairs, recently broke ground on a school in Haiti.
- Dr. Jonas Nguh is launching a model for maternal health in Africa.
- Dr. Prince Ordu who is passionate about ensuring people in Nigeria have clean water.
They make me proud to call Walden “My University.” And I’m not the only one. Doctoral graduates like Dr. Fredrick Murphy are passionate about sharing their Walden experience with others. He’s paying it forward by referring his colleagues to Walden so that they have the opportunity to earn the highest academic degree and use it to make the world a better place for everyone.
*Survey of Earned Doctorates, National Science Foundation, "Table 9: Top 20 doctorate-granting institutions ranked by number of minority U.S. citizen and permanent resident doctorate recipients, by ethnicity and race of recipient: 5-year total, 2013–17," on the internet at https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsf19301/data.
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