Sudarkasa, Niara 1938–
Niara Sudarkasa 1938–
Niara Sudarkasa is the first woman president of Lincoln University, one of the oldest historically black institutions of higher learning in the United States. Lincoln boasts numerous illustrious graduates, including Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American to become a United States Supreme Court Justice; Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first president of Nigeria; Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana; and writer Langston Hughes. Sudarkasa seeks to foster among present students the same zeal that Lincoln’s past scholars have shown for bettering the human condition. As she told Essence, “Unless a sense of service and duty is instilled, our upward mobility will only be measured by cars and styling.”
Sudarkasa was born Gloria Marshall on August 14, 1938, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A precocious student, she enrolled in Fisk University in 1953 at the age of fifteen. In 1956 she transferred to Oberlin College, where she completed a degree in sociology the following year. Sudarkasa received a master’s degree in anthropology from Columbia University in 1959 and a doctorate in anthropology at the same university in 1964. Upon graduation she took a teaching position at New York University, and she joined the faculty of the University of Michigan in 1967. There she gained notice for her field work in West Africa, concentrating on trade, migration, and the role of women in society. Sudarkasa adopted her African name during the 1970s; her first name, “Niara,” means “woman of high purpose.” In addition to fulfilling her duties as a professor of anthropology, Sudarkasa was also serving as associate vice-president of academic affairs at the University of Michigan by the time she was selected as the eleventh president of Lincoln University in 1987.
Sudarkasa told Rhoda E. McKinney of Ebony that to her the appointment to the 135-year-old university was the “perfect meeting of scholar and institution.” According to Essence, her impression was echoed by a member of Lincoln’s presidential search committee, who said at her inauguration, “When we looked around to find the best man we could for this position, we discovered that he was a woman.” Assuming the helm of an institution that admitted only male students during the first hundred years of the school’s existence, Sudarkasa told Essence, “I think that as a woman president, I bring an obvious maternal side—if you want to call it that—a caring sense that I am here to help nurture and mold students in a more direct and involved way than I think a male president would.”
Born Gloria Marshall, August 14, 1938, in Fort Lauderdale, FL; married John L. Clark (an inventor, sculptor, and contractor); children: Michael Eric. Education : Fisk University, 1953-56; Oberlin College, B.A., 1957; Columbia University, M.A., 1959, Ph.D., 1964.
New York University, New York City, assistant professor, 1964-67; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, professor of anthropology, 1967-87, director of Center for Afro-American and African Studies, 1981-84, associate vice-president of academic affairs; Lincoln University, Lincoln University, PA, president, 1987—. Member of board of directors, Ann Arbor Community Center; chair, State of Michigan Committee on Minorities, Women, and Handicappers in Higher Education, 1984—.
Member: African Studies Association, American Anthropology Association (fellow), Association of Black Anthropologists, American Association for Higher Education.
Awards: Ford Foundation scholarship for early admission to college, 1953-57; John Hay Whitney Opportunity fellowship, 1959-60; Ford Foundation Foreign Area Training fellowship, 1960-63; Carnegie Foundation Study of New Nation fellowship, 1963-64; Social Science Research Council fellowship, 1973-74; senior Fulbright research scholarship, 1982-83; achievement awards, Links, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Zeta Phi Beta, Elks, City of Fort Lauderdale.
Addresses: Office —University President, Lincoln University, Lincoln University, PA 19352.
Sudarkasa, whom some students refer to affectionately as “Madame President,” told Washington, “I enjoy talking with the students because I’m always astonished at where they are. For example, there are a lot of students on campus who are actively involved in religion. I find it interesting to talk with them about what that means in their lives. What comes through is that in the kind of society we live in, religion represents for them the surest alternative to drugs and other forms of degradation that are taking our children’s lives.”
Ebony cited Sudarkasa among women “of many ’firsts,’ pioneers charting their own courses of tradition,” and Essence reported that Sudarkasa is suffusing Lincoln University with “a new upbeat spirit.” Sudarkasa reported to McKinney that she plans to insure that the Lincoln curriculum reflects global and intercultural influences, and hopes to provide Lincoln students with opportunities to discover their personal link with their African heritage. Sudarkasa’s own involvement with her heritage is reflected in the vast array of art and antiques from West Africa that she displays in the home she shares with her husband, John L. Clark, on Lincoln’s campus. Her son, Michael, who earned a law degree from Harvard University, is also personally involved with African issues, holding an internship with the African Development Bank on the Ivory Coast. Sudarkasa’s agenda for Lincoln also includes giving more attention to science, math, and engineering to insure that students can compete “on the very cutting edge.” As she told Essence, “When people talk about the top small liberal-arts colleges in the country, I want Lincoln to be one of the schools mentioned.”
Ebony, February 1988.
Essence, May 1989; November 1991.
More From encyclopedia.com
Lincoln , Lincoln: Economy Major Industries and Commercial Activity In May 2005, Forbes chose Lincoln as the seventh "Best Smaller Metro" area for business and… Robert Todd Lincoln , Robert Todd Lincoln was a lawyer, a presidential elector for the Illinois branch of the republican party in 1880, secretary of war in the cabinets of… Lincoln, Abraham , Abraham Lincoln Gabor S. Boritt with Matthew Pinsker THE date was 11 February 1861. One day short of his fifty-second birthday, Abraham Lincoln, pres… Abraham Lincoln , Abraham Lincoln Gabor S. Boritt with Matthew Pinsker THE date was 11 February 1861. One day short of his fifty-second birthday, Abraham Lincoln, pres… Abbey Lincoln , Lincoln, Abbey 1930– Jazz singer, composer, arranger, actress Abbey Lincoln “is a culture bearer,” jazz singer Cassandra Wilson told John Leland in N… Levi Lincoln , Lincoln, Levi LINCOLN, LEVI Levi Lincoln was a U.S. attorney general under President thomas jefferson. He held various political posts, including tha…
About this article
Sudarkasa, Niara 1938–
Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article
You Might Also Like
Sudarkasa, Niara 1938–