Googled: Julianne Malveaux ’74, MA’76, from pundit to president

Published: April 2007

I talk, write, raise hell, work on education issues and social change and get paid for it enough of the time to make both a decent living and a difference,” Julianne Malveaux writes in The Black Collegian magazine. An economist, lecturer, syndicated columnist, television commentator, and civic leader, Malveaux has been a provocative political pundit and commentator on the issues of race and gender for 20 years. Cornel West of Princeton University calls her “the most iconoclastic public intellectual in the country.”

In March, Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C., a historically black college founded in 1873, surprised the academic community by appointing Malveaux to be its 15th president. The announcement was received enthusiastically on the Bennett campus, where Malveaux was a visiting faculty member in 2005. “We are delighted to have as our next president a woman who is talented and competent, with the vision and creativity to move Bennett to the next level,” said Yvonne Johnson, chair of the Bennett College Board of Trustees.

While recognizing that the new president’s celebrity will help the college’s fundraising efforts, some academics fear she will become a lightning rod for controversy. Lavonne Jackson Leslie, professor of African-American studies at Howard University, told Diverse Online that Malveaux’s “black feminist perspective” might provoke criticism “from mainstream America,” and that, despite her Ph.D. in economics from MIT, she is seen “more as a journalist versus an academician.”

Malveaux was unruffled, describing her new relationship with Bennett as a perfect pairing. “I am honored, humbled, and delighted,” she declared. “This new chapter of my life combines my passion for social and economic justice, my passion for the empowerment of African–American women, my passion for higher education, and my passion for the survival, or better yet the thriving, of African–American institutions.”

This feature was posted on Thursday, April 19, 2007 and is filed under Research.
Writer: Dan Soyer