Six African Americans Appointed to Administrative Posts at Major Universities

Dawn L. Ridley was named assistant vice president of institutional giving at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Before joining Howard, she worked as the strategy and planning director for AARP Services, Inc., where she led the strategy development for AARP-endorsed financial products and services.

Ridley holds a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and an MBA from Clark Atlanta University.

Cedric Gathings is the new director of strategic planning and implementation in the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President at Mississippi State University. From 2016 to 2020, he was vice president for student affairs at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. Earlier in his career, Gathings held several administrative posts at Mississippi State.

Gathings holds a bachelor’s degree in social science and a master’s degree in sociology from Delta State University in Mississippi. He is completing work on a doctorate in higher education administration from Concordia University.

Danielle Haynes was appointed associate dean of students for conflict coaching and case management at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Haynes previously served as a legislative aid for the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, and as an advocate for survivor services and coordinator of student case management for Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

Haynes holds bachelor’s degrees in political science and African American and African studies from Ohio State University. She earned a master’s degree in global international relations from Webster University in St. Louis.

Michèle G. Turner was appointed associate vice president and director of the Office of Business Diversity and Economic Opportunity at the University of Southern California. She is the former executive director of the USC Black Alumni Association.

Dr. Turner holds a bachelor’s degree and an educational doctorate from the University of Southern California. She earned an MBA at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Lonnie Cockerham has been selected to serve as interim executive director of community engagement at North Carolina A&T State University. Dr. Cockerham has held management and administrative leadership positions in community-based organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Huntington Learning Center, and Black Child Development Institute.

Dr. Cockerman earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and a Ph.D. in leadership studies from North Carolina A&T State University. He holds an MBA from Duke University.

Franklin Ellis Jr. has been named the new director of the Vanderbilt University Posse Scholar Program. Since last fall he has been serving as director of the Provost’s Office for Inclusive Excellence at the university and will continue in that role. Earlier, he was assistant director of intercultural and inclusion student services at Coastal Carlina University in Conway, South Carolina.

Originally from Florence, South Carolina, Dr. Ellis earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and philosophy from Coastal Carolina University and a master’s degree in mental health counseling from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He earned a doctorate in marriage and family therapy from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Westwood, California.


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