Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole
Renowned educator and humanitarian Johnnetta B.
Cole will deliver the UNC Asheville Commencement address on
Saturday, May 10. The ceremony begins at 9 a.m. on the Ramsey
Library Terrace. In case of rain, Commencement will be held at the
Asheville Civic Center. Tickets are not required. Some 490 students
are candidates for bachelor's and master's of liberal arts degrees.
During the ceremony, UNC Asheville Chancellor Anne Ponder will also
present an honorary doctoral degree to Cole.
Cole has had a long and distinguished career focused on education,
equality and social justice. She holds a bachelor's degree from
Oberlin College and earned master's and doctorate degrees in
anthropology from Northwestern University. Upon graduation, she
launched a successful career as a college professor and
administrator that spanned four decades.
She taught at Washington State University, University of
Massachusetts and Hunter College. In 1987, Cole made history when
she became the first African American woman to be named president of
Spelman College. Later, Cole served as president of Bennett College
for Women. She is the only individual to have served as the
president of the two historically black colleges for women in the
United States. Much of her time is now centered in her role as the
chair of the board of the Johnnetta B. Cole Global Diversity and
Inclusion Institute founded at Bennett College for Women.
Cole is the author of several books, including "Conversations:
Straight Talk with America's Sister President" and "Dream the
Boldest Dreams: And Other Lessons of Life." Her most recent book,
"Gender Talk: The Struggle for Women's Equality in African-American
Communities," was co-authored with Beverly Guy Sheftall.
Cole is committed to community service. She serves on numerous
prominent boards, including the National Visionary Leadership
Project, TransAfrica Forum and Africa University in Zimbabwe. From
2004-2006, she was the chair of the board of United Way of
America--- the first person of color to hold that position--- and
she continues to serve on that board. She is on the advisory board
of The Atlanta Falcons and The Smithsonian's Scholarly Advisory
Board for the National Museum of African American History and
Cole has received many awards, including the TransAfrica Forum
Global Public Service Award, the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal,
The Joseph Prize for Human Rights from the Anti-Defamation League,
and the Uncommon Height Award from the National Council of Negro
For more information about Commencement, call UNC Asheville's Office
of the Provost at 828/251-6470 or click on