SREB Honors 500th Ph.D. Recipient from Doctoral Program

The SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program honored Dr. Betina Cutaia Wilkinson as its 500th doctoral scholar at the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) annual meeting in West Virginia. Also on Monday, board members elected North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue as the new chair of the SREB. Perdue will succeed West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, who has been the board’s chairman since 2009.

The 16-state organization is based in Atlanta and helps education and government leaders collaborate to advance education in the South. The organization’s SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program was launched in 1993 to address the national shortage of minority faculty at higher education institutions. More than one-third of America’s college students are people of color, but college and university faculty are far less diverse, according to SREB officials. 

“The 500th graduate is a major milestone for our program — and for our states. It means that 500 program graduates are making a difference in our college and university classrooms, in the research labs, and in service to our communities,” said Dr. Ansley Abraham, director of the program, in a statement.

SREB has assisted and trained almost 1,000 doctoral scholars, including 515 graduates. More than 80 percent of program graduates now work in education, and more than 60 percent of them work in SREB member states, according to the SREB. 

Born in Argentina and raised in Metairie, La., Wilkinson earned a Ph.D. in political science from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge this year. She is expected to soon join the faculty at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. as an assistant professor of political science. In addition to Wilkinson, SREB honored four other program graduates on Monday.

Editor’s Note: In honor of Dr. John Hope Franklin’s extraordinary career as a historian, scholar and social activist, Diverse: Issues In Higher Education presented a John Hope Franklin Award to the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) State Doctoral Scholars Program in March 2010. The John Hope Franklin Award recognizes exemplary higher education diversity achievements by individuals and organizations.