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Picture of Johnnetta B. Cole, Ph.D.
Johnnetta B. Cole, Ph.D.: Biography

Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, 14th president of Bennett College, Greensboro, N.C., has a distinguished career as a college and university teacher and administrator that spans 37 years. She is president emerita of Spelman College and professor emerita of Emory University from which she retired as Presidential Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Women's Studies and African American Studies.

Dr. Cole began her college studies at Fisk University and completed her undergraduate degree at Oberlin College. She earned a master's degree and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Northwestern University before embarking on a career in teaching and research in the areas of cultural anthropology, African American studies and women's studies.

Dr. Cole made history in 1987 by becoming the first African American woman to serve as president of Spelman College. At her inauguration, Drs. Bill and Camille Cosby made a $20 million donation to the college -- at that time the largest single gift from individuals to any historically black college or university. Under Dr. Cole's leadership, Spelman became the first historically black college or university to receive a number one rating by U.S. News and World Report magazine when the college was named the number one liberal arts college in the south. That same year, Dr. Cole was named to President-elect Bill Clinton's transition team as cluster coordinator for education, labor, and the arts and humanities.

Dr. Cole is an active participant in numerous community and civic organizations including The Carter Center, and the TransAfrica Forum. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, The Links, Inc., and the National Council of Negro Women. She also serves on the board of directors of the United Way of Greater Greensboro, Merck & Co., Inc., and the Atlanta Falcons. Dr. Cole is chair-elect of the board of trustees of the United Way of America.

In addition to 47 honorary degrees, Dr. Cole has received numerous awards including the TransAfrica Forum Global Public Service Award, the Dorothy I. Height Dreammaker Award, the Radcliffe Medal, the 1999 Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal, the 2001 Alexis deTocqueville Award for Community Service from United Way of America, the Women Who Make A Difference Award from the National Council for Research on Women, and the 2002 Women of Courage and Strength Award from American Legacy magazine.

Dr. Cole continues writing, speaking, consulting, and engaging in community service.

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