The First African American to Be Promoted to Full Professor at Ithaca College

Cynthia Henderson, a member of the faculty in the department of theatre arts, was promoted to full professor at Ithaca College in New York. She is the first African American who has been promoted to the rank of full professor in the 128-year history of Ithaca College.

Dr. Henderson joined the faculty at Ithaca College in 2000. In 2007, she was the first African-American woman to earn tenure at the college.

Professor Henderson said she doesn’t single out the college for taking almost 130 years to promote an African American to the rank of full professor. Structural racism, she said, is a problem most institutions have had to deal with since the United States’ inception. “The country was founded on racism, so there’s a reason why it has taken so long for people of African heritage to ascend to positions of leadership and power,” she said.

Professor Henderson is a graduate of Troy University in Alabama, where she majored in theatre. She earned a master of fine arts degree in acting at Pennsylvania State University.

Comments (4)

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  1. Deidre Hill Butler says:


  2. Harriet Frink Davis, Ph. D. says:

    Congratulations to you Professor Henderson!

  3. Lee E. Ross Ph.D. says:

    Congratulations Dr. Henderson! As Dr. King said, “the arc of the moral universe is long and it bends towards justice” You, along with so many others—are more than deserving.

  4. Beverly Davis says:

    Congratulations Dr. Henderson. Thank you for staying the course.

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