In Memoriam: James A. Donaldson, 1941-2019

James A. Donaldson, a long-time faculty member at Howard University who also served as acting president of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, died on October 18 at his home in Washington D.C. He was 78 years old.

Dr. Donaldson was one of 11 children who grew up on a family farm in Madison County, Florida. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and went on to obtain a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Illinois.

Dr. Donaldson began his academic career at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He also taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of New Mexico before joining the faculty at Howard University in 1971. He chaired the Howard University mathematics department from 1972 to 1990. In this position, he developed the first doctoral program in mathematics at a historically Black university.

Dr. Donaldson then served as dean of the university’s College of Arts and Sciences for 14 years. He took a leave from Howard to serve as acting president of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania during the 1998-99 academic year. Dr. Donaldson retired from the Howard University faculty in 2013.

Wayne A.I. Frederick, president of Howard University stated that “Dean Donaldson was a humble leader who made the welfare of students one of the primary concerns. He also made faculty development and alumni relations critical priorities throughout his tenure. He was a freedom fighter, in the tradition of many luminaries who also walked the walls of Alain Locke Hall, he navigated the tough terrains of the academe to secure the way for the next generation of trailblazers, academicians, and leaders.”


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