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Dr. John Hope Franklin Award to be presented to Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson on April 14 during the ACE annual meeting


Contact: Maya Matthews Minter
[email protected]
Phone: 703.385.2411

Dr. John Hope Franklin Award to be presented to Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson on April 14 during the ACE annual meeting 

FAIRFAX, Va. — Diverse: Issues In Higher Education is pleased to announce the presentation of the Dr. John Hope Franklin Award to Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson.

Jackson is a theoretical physicist and inventor, described as a trailblazer, innovator, and path builder. She is renowned as a transformative leader not only in academia but also in industry and government. On July 1, she retired as the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), where she was the first African American woman to lead a top-ranked research university. At her 1999 inauguration, she vowed to increase RPI’s profile; under her presidential tenure more than $1.25 billion was invested and the campus was transformed by state-of-the-art research platforms.

Among her numerous appointments and awards, in 2014, President Barack Obama appointed her co-chair of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board on which she served until Obama left office. In February 2020, she joined The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) global board of directors to serve until 2029. Prior to her RPI presidency, she served as chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the first woman and first African American to hold that position. From 1991 to 1995, Jackson worked as professor of physics at Rutgers University, where she taught undergraduate and graduate students, conducted research, and supervised Ph.D. candidates while continuing work in semiconductor theory at AT&T Bell Laboratories.

Jackson was born in Washington, D.C., and attended Roosevelt Senior High School. She earned her bachelor’s degree and doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); she was the first African American woman to receive a doctorate from MIT and one of the first two African American women to receive a doctorate in physics in the U.S.

Award Presentation:

The presentation of Jackson’s award medallion will take place at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C., at 6 p.m. EST, Friday, April 14, 2023, during the American Council on Education (ACE) annual meeting. Jackson will also be featured in the April 13 print edition of Diverse.

Jackson was a 2009 recipient of the Dr. John Hope Franklin Award but is being recognized at this year’s ACE meeting. Regrettably, the award ceremony was cancelled in 2009.        

About this Award:

The Dr. John Hope Franklin Award was created in 2004 to pay tribute to Dr. Franklin, historian, writer, educator, and humanitarian who made significant contributions to shaping the perspective of American history in the 20th Century.

With permission from the late Dr. Franklin, Diverse created the award to institutionalize and celebrate his scholarly contributions to the nation on an ongoing basis. The individuals and organizations chosen are those whose contributions to higher education are consistent with the highest standards of excellence.

Past recipients have included, among others, Dr. Clifton Wharton, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Maya Angelou, the late Dr. William Friday, and Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole.

This year’s program is presented with support from TIAA.

For nearly four decades, Diverse: Issues In Higher Education has been America’s premier source of timely news, provocative commentary, insightful interviews, and in-depth special reports on diversity in higher education. Savvy individuals who appreciate the crucial and ever-changing role higher education plays in the lives of student and professionals, and their families and communities, make reading Diverse an enduring habit.


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