The American Council on Education honored Dr. Blenda Wilson, former president of California State University, Northridge, with the Donna Shavlik award Saturday, at the Women’s Leadership Dinner during ACE’s 92nd Annual Meeting being held through Tuesday in Phoenix. Named for the former longtime director of ACE’s Office of Women in Higher Education, the Shavlik award honors a leader who has demonstrated a sustained and continuing commitment to enhancing women’s leadership and career development.
ACE also honored Dr. Alison Bernstein, vice president for the Knowledge, Creative and Free Expression Program of the Ford Foundation, with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
Wilson was the first African-American woman senior administrator at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, the first woman and African-American senior associate dean at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education and, as chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn from 1984-88, the first woman to head a four-year institution in Michigan.
The former executive director of the Colorado Commission on Education, Wilson became the first woman president of California State University, Northridge.
In 1999, she became the inaugural president of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and directed the foundation as it distributed more than $80 million in grants to schools and colleges to support improved educational achievement, especially for poor and minority students.
In 2003, she became the first African-American director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and was appointed chair of the board in 2006.
Wilson holds a bachelor’s degree from Cedar Crest College (Pa.), a master’s degree from Seton Hall University (N.J.), and a Ph.D. in higher education management from Boston College.