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Standout Scholars

Young, gifted and black, scholars across the nation light pathways to the pursuit of academic excellence

Isolation, lack of adequate mentorship and vague, or not so vague, suggestions that the research topics African American scholars pursue are somehow not worthy of academic consideration are only a few of the horrors young scholars can encounter along the road to the doctorate. Indeed, various public discourses in 2004 indicate how fraught the higher education landscape is for people of color who desire its pursuit. The 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education that illuminated some shameful shortcomings in the equal education equation; Bill Cosby’s comments upon that occasion; a shocking decline in the numbers of African American students matriculating in U.S. colleges and universities; skyrocketing tuition; inadequate counseling at the high school level; and the apparent malfunctions of No Child Left Behind combine to create a rather bleak snapshot of pathways toward Black excellence in education.

Yet, despite these and other difficulties, or, in some cases, because of them, the group of academicians presented here in Black Issues In Higher Education’s annual edition celebrating rising stars in the academy demonstrates that scholars of color continue to prevail and flourish. And an overview of current scholarship by people of African descent reveals the reality that interdisciplinary endeavors are simply a fact of academic life for these scholars who clearly advocate for highlighting intersections that can facilitate the substantial development of their respective fields as well as elevate the extent of their personal contributions to the academy.

The scholars of education and history, for example, who appreciate and apprehend the impact of hip-hop as an influential element shaping contemporary cultures around the globe; the multilingual classics scholar who advances the importance of the types of international connections — historical as well as modern — this particular discipline makes possible; the music theory scholar who encourages students to learn new languages as a means to participate fully in the world; and the scholar of biomedical engineering whose astounding research may well enhance one of her protégés’ quality of life; as well as the management scientist, the poet, the chemist and the professors of law and accounting at the top of their fields all show with their relevance that any disconnect between the academy and the “real” world is neither necessary nor acceptable.

In addition to new discoveries, advanced theories, prolific publications, awards and fellowships, this array of scholars from a range of backgrounds are also remarkable for their passionate contributions to the teaching profession. Black Issues In Higher Education is proud to present 10 outstanding scholars from around the nation who, as 2005 rising stars, illuminate the path toward academic excellence and the professoriate for all those who might follow their example.

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