Five African American Scholars Who Are Taking on New Assignments

Olga Davis has been named associate dean of Barett, The Honors College at Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus. She currently serves as a professor in the university’s Hugh Downs School of Human Communication and as a research affiliate of Mayo Clinic.

Davis is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Redlands in California, where she majored in business and finance. She holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. in communication studies from the University of Nebraska.

Monique L. Akassi has been named assistant to the president and professor of English at Talladega College in Alabama. She previously served as associate provost for faculty affairs at Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Florida.

Dr. Akassi is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati where she majored in English and comparative literature. She holds a master’s degree in English composition and rhetoric from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and a Ph.D. in English composition and rhetoric with minors in literary criticism theory and African American literature from Morgan State University in Baltimore.

Rodney Priestley has been named to the newly created position of vice dean for innovation at Princeton University in New Jersey. He was recently promoted to a full professor of chemical and biological engineering. He has been a Princeton faculty member since 2009.

Dr. Priestley is a graduate of Texas Tech University where he majored in chemical engineering. He holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. both in chemical engineering from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Phillip L. Pointer has been named an associate professor of philosophy and religion and chair of the department of philosophy and religion at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is the senior pastor of the Saint Mark Baptist Church, one of the largest congregations in Little Rock.

Dr. Pointer holds a master of divinity degree from Virginia Union University and a doctor of ministry degree from the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Edwin Thomas has been named interim head of the engineering technology department at Grambling State University in Louisiana. He has been a longtime faculty member of the university and also serves as director of the university’s marching band.

Dr. Thomas holds a bachelor’s degree from Grambling State University, a master’s degree in industrial technology from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, and a doctorate in higher education, administration, supervision, and management also from Grambling State University.


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