Legends of Excellence 2017: Dr. Willie Lamousé-Smith, Professor Emeritus and Former Chair of Africana Studies

Hosted every five years by the UMBC Chapter of Black and Latino Alumni (CBLA), the Legends of Excellence Awards Brunch honors the achievements and contributions of faculty and staff who have made a significant impact on the lives of UMBC’s black and Latino students. In the weeks leading up to this year’s event, we’ll be profiling each of this year’s honorees here on our blog. Read on for today’s bio…

Lamouse-SmithDr. Willie Bediako Lamousé-Smith first arrived at UMBC in 1975 to direct what was then known as the Division of Afro-American Studies. As the university re-organized its academic structure, his role evolved along with it, as he became the department’s first Chair. In his 33 years at UMBC, he established himself as both a key architect of what would eventually become the Africana Studies department, and a steadfast advocate for the students he taught.

Before coming to UMBC, Dr. Lamousé-Smith was the Associate Director of the Program of Eastern African Studies at Syracuse University’s Maxwell Graduate School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and had taught sociology at Makerere University in Uganda and the Free University of Berlin after finishing his Ph.D at Germany’s University of Muenster. Throughout his academic career, his research focused primarily on the politics, demography, and economics of Africa and its diaspora, and he is the author of several influential papers on these subjects.

Given his expertise, he was instrumental in adding courses on the African diaspora to the program’s curriculum, and also established the W.E.B. DuBois Lecture Series, which continues to bring distinguished scholars and activists to campus each year. In 1997, the department changed its name to Africana Studies to reflect its new focus, thanks in large part to his scholarship. He has also provided expert testimony on African affairs to the U.S. House of Representatives, the United Nations, and the Organization of African Unity, and co-authored the Africa Interactive Maps CD-ROM series. He authored the initial 200-page proposal for a master’s degree in African-American Studies at UMBC, and served as the now-defunct program’s chair from 1988 to 1991.

In addition to his stature as a researcher, Dr. Lamousé-Smith is also remembered by his former students as a dedicated teacher and mentor. “As a parent who did not spare energy or resources on the education of our children,” he says, “I regarded all students in the frame of striving for quality education.” Particularly in his first two decades at UMBC, he says, many of his students were the first in their families to go to college, and he saw it as a moral duty to guide them to their full academic potential. No matter what role he held in his department’s administration, he remained a full teaching faculty member until his retirement in 2008.

He also says that one of his proudest moments, as an educator, was “standing by [minority] students, and standing up with them” in their fight for racial equality on campus. “While they could not have foreseen the consequential impact of their demonstrations on the campus for racial justice and equality,” he says, “UMBC would not be what it is today but for them.”

Register NOW for the Legends of Excellence Awards Brunch on Saturday, May 6!

Legends of Excellence 2017: Earnestine Baker, Former Executive Director of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program

Hosted every five years by the UMBC Chapter of Black and Latino Alumni (CBLA), the Legends of Excellence Awards Brunch honors the achievements and contributions of faculty and staff who have made a significant impact on the lives of UMBC’s black and Latino students. In the weeks leading up to this year’s event, we’ll be profiling each of this year’s honorees here on our blog. Read on for today’s bio…

IMG_3495_cropEarnestine Baker, known affectionately to her colleagues as “Ernie,” was first hired as UMBC’s Coordinator for Minority Recruitment in 1983. In 1992, she became the first Program Director of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, and was promoted to Assistant to the Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program in 2002. Under her direction, the Meyerhoff program became an integral part of campus life and culture, and achieved a sterling reputation for preparing minority students for graduate and professional programs in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering. Mrs. Baker presented the program as one of the blue ribbon reports to Congress in 2003, and in 2009, the program was recognized by Science, the nation’s leading journal of scientific research, news, and commentary, for having “what it takes” to help more minority students earn science degrees.

Since its inception in 1993, the Meyerhoff program has graduated over 1,200 students, and counts 231 Ph.D. graduates, including 45 M.D./Ph.D.s, among its alumni. Mrs. Baker was instrumental in increasing its cachet among institutions of higher learning, and has represented UMBC on both the national and international stages, from participating at the 2012 College Completion Symposium with then-U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, to accompanying a delegation of University Members to Beijing, China, Cape Town, South Africa, Seville, Spain, and Bali, Indonesia.

Mrs. Baker is remembered by those who worked for and with her for her steely resolve in the face of challenges, especially in the early days of the program, and for the values she instilled in her students and staff. In many instances, the connections Mrs. Baker forged with her students stayed intact long after they left UMBC, as she continued to offer them guidance and network on their behalf as they pursued graduate study. In 2008, she received the University System of Maryland Board of Regents’ Award for Extraordinary Public Service to the University or the Greater Community for her dedication to the Meyerhoff Scholars Program and the students it served. Since her retirement in 2013, Mrs. Baker has continued to serve on several STEM advisory boards, and is currently serving as a contractual worker at UMBC.

“While growing up, I had a community who inspired me to work hard and to be the best that I could be,” she writes. “I knew that I wanted to [and needed to] give back and help others in the manner that I had experienced.” With the Meyerhoff Scholars Program in the place it is today, both within the UMBC community and in the national sphere, Mrs. Baker has more than paid it forward.

Register NOW for the Legends of Excellence Awards Brunch on Saturday, May 6!

Legends of Excellence 2017: The Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington, Former Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs

Hosted every five years by the UMBC Chapter of Black and Latino Alumni (CBLA), the Legends of Excellence Awards Brunch honors the achievements and contributions of faculty and staff who have made a significant impact on the lives of UMBC’s black and Latino students. In the weeks leading up to this year’s event, we’ll be profiling each of this year’s honorees here on our blog. Read on for today’s bio…

Jamie Washington_500x500 2014 MCCAThe Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington arrived at UMBC in 1986 as the Assistant Director of Residential Life, and at first, he says, he “wasn’t sure how [he] would be received” by the campus community. “As an openly gay, African-American, Christian man,” he writes, “I had experienced my share of people not being willing to engage fully.” However, he inspired a generation of students by being his most authentic self, and “[showing] up in truth, compassion…and excellence.”

Given his background in social justice work, the Rev. Dr. Washington was initially hired to help improve diversity training for resident assistants and professional staff in ResLife. Over his 16-year career at UMBC, he played several key roles in the administration, serving as Multicultural Affairs Coordinator, Assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs, Director of Student Life, and, finally, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs. Washington also taught as an affiliate faculty member in the Departments of American Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, and Social Work.

The Rev. Dr. Washington left UMBC in 2002 to answer a call to ministry and attend Howard University School of Divinity.  During his time in divinity school, the Washington Consulting Group (WCG), his diversity consulting firm, began to grow. In 2015, WCG was named one of the top 10 global diversity consulting groups in the world. Dr. Washington serves as the company’s president and CEO, as well as the co-pastor of Unity Fellowship Church of Baltimore and the President and Co-Founder of the Social Justice Training Institute. In addition to his M.Div. from Howard, he holds a B.S. in therapeutic recreation and music therapy from Slippery Rock State College, an M.S. in higher education and student affairs and a second M.S. in counseling and counselor education from Indiana University, and a Ph.D. in counseling and personnel services from the University of Maryland.

Washington’s former students remember him as a man of integrity, who was “instrumental in developing leaders at UMBC.” Washington, for his part, counts them as his “greatest success.”

“They taught me what it means to be a servant leader, [and] that authenticity would, in fact, lead to deeper and more impactful relationships,” he writes. He remains connected to campus today by working with the Meyerhoff Summer Bridge Program, as well as through Residential and Student Life, the departments where he made his mark on the university.

Register NOW for the Legends of Excellence Awards Brunch on Saturday, May 6!

Legends of Excellence 2017: Simmona Simmons ’74, Service and Special Projects Librarian

Hosted every five years by the UMBC Chapter of Black and Latino Alumni (CBLA), the Legends of Excellence Awards Brunch honors the achievements and contributions of faculty and staff who have made a significant impact on the lives of UMBC’s black and Latino students. In the weeks leading up to this year’s event, we’ll be profiling each of this year’s honorees here on our blog. Read on for today’s bio…

Simmona-Simmons-4004Simmona Simmons ’74, American studies, started working as a technician at the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery in 1966, the very same year UMBC opened its doors to students across Maryland. After earning her degree, she was UMBC’s only African American librarian in the university’s earliest days, and many young minority students saw her as a role model and inspiration.

Now the Service and Special Projects Librarian at UMBC, she has served in several capacities over the years, including Head of Circulation, Head of Reserves, Head of Serials, and Head of Reference. After completing her bachelor’s degree in American studies here in 1974, she earned a master’s of library and information science from the University of Maryland at College Park in 1976, as well as a second master’s degree in American studies.

Ms. Simmons serves as the library liaison to the Department of Africana Studies, and is also a former adjunct faculty member at the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies, has contributed to several academic publications, and has served on the Board of Trustees for the Anne Arundel County Public Library and the Oncology Foundation of Maryland and the District of Columbia. She has contributed to such scholarly publications as the Handbook of Black Librarianship, Notable Black American Women, and The Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music, and written the essay “It’s a Personal Thing” for Library Mosaics.

While her current role involves outreach to faculty, Ms. Simmons says she has “always loved” working with students: “As they discover new information and as they mature, it is exciting to contribute a small part to their success.” She is remembered by former students for her grace, modesty, and for being an inspiring presence within the library’s halls.

Tickets for the Legends of Excellence event on Saturday, May 6, are still available here.  We hope to see you there!

Staying in the Loop – Yvette Mozie-Ross ’88, health science and policy

Staying in the Loop is a new post series from the Chapter of Black and Latino Alumni (CBLA) that seeks to create connections between alumni, faculty, staff, and other supporters of UMBC and CBLA. Click here for more information about CBLA.

Name: Dr. Yvette Mozie-Ross
Major: Health Science and Policy
Grad year: 1988
Staff: Vice Provost for Enrollment Management and Planning

Q: What do/did you enjoy most about being a part of the UMBC community?

I enjoyed the close sense of community. Everyone knew everyone and looked out for each others’ well-being. I remember celebrating birthdays and also coming together to help classmates through difficult times as well (personal/family challenges).

Q: UMBC is approaching its 50th anniversary (2016) and certainly the campus has come a long way – from a small commuter school to the nation’s #1 “up-and-coming” university – in such a relatively short period of time. What, in your opinion, makes UMBC so unique/special? What’s your most memorable experience/moment at UMBC?

I think what’s special about UMBC is we provide a place for ordinary, everyday people who are passionate about their interests and willing to work hard to become extraordinary!

Q: If you could meet one person in the world who would it be and why?

Oprah Winfrey. I think she is an amazing person who has positively impacted so many lives through her work in television and media. She is a deeply spiritual person who (unapologetically) works to ensure her that her spiritual self and her professional self are in alignment. I strive for that in my day to day work.

Q: What is the best advice you’ve received?

Whatever follows “I am” will come looking for you!

Q: What is one book you think everyone should read?

Five Languages of Love by Gary Chapman. This book is great no matter where you are in your relationship – whether you are just getting started in a new relationship or celebrating 50 years of marriage!

Q: What is one thing you can’t live without?

Chocolate!

Staying in the Loop – Donta Henson ’13, health administration and policy

Staying in the Loop is a new post series from the Chapter of Black and Latino Alumni (CBLA) that seeks to create connections between alumni, faculty, staff, and other supporters of UMBC and CBLA. Click here for more information about CBLA.

Name: Donta HensonDonta Henson_CBLA
Major: Health Administration and Policy
Grad year: 2013

Q: What do/did you enjoy most about being a part of the UMBC community?

The energetic and diverse learning environment.

Q: UMBC is approaching its 50th anniversary (2016) and certainly the campus has come a long way – from a small commuter school to the nation’s #1 “up-and-coming” university – in such a relatively short period of time. What, in your opinion, makes UMBC so unique/special? What’s your most memorable experience/moment at UMBC?

Hands down, the leadership of Dr. Hrabowski is what makes UMBC such a special place.

Q: If you could meet one person in the world who would it be?

Dr. Mae Jemison.

Q: What is the best advice you’ve received?

“Stay the course.” This advice was given to me during my early years in the Navy and while so simple the message of perseverance has carried me to unbelievable heights.

Q: What is one book you think everyone should read?

Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.

Q: What is one thing you can’t live without?

One thing I couldn’t live without is my family. They’ve been my biggest supporters and my biggest source of pride.

Staying in the Loop – Darren “Jazz” Stevens ’95, Economics

Staying in the Loop is a new post series from the Chapter of Black and Latino Alumni (CBLA) that seeks to create connections between alumni, faculty, staff, and other supporters of UMBC and CBLA. Click here for more information about CBLA.

Name: Darren “Jazz” Stevens 14036689697_f491a4a34a_k
Major: Economics
Grad year: 1995

Q: What do/did you enjoy most about being a part of the UMBC community?

UMBC became home, and working with my UMBC family making my home what we wanted it to be was, and is, what drives me.

Q: UMBC is approaching its 50th anniversary (2016) and certainly the campus has come a long way – from a small commuter school to the nation’s #1 “up-and-coming” university – in such a relatively short period of time. What, in your opinion, makes UMBC so unique/special? What’s your most memorable experience/moment at UMBC?

The faculty prioritizes the success of the students, instead of accepting the failure of students, making it unique in the world of collegiate education. “One of” my most memorable experiences was the demonstration at the 1994 Board of Regents meeting. Students demanded their voice be heard, and we were provided the platform to express our voice.

Q: If you could meet one person in the world who would it be and why?

John Madden. I would want to take a cross country tour on the Madden Cruiser watching football films from the 60s through the new millennium, breaking down game film.

Q: What is the best advice you’ve received?

The best advice I ever received was a quote, “True power is the ability to tell someone to go to Hell, and make them feel happy that they are on their way!”

Q: What is one book you think everyone should read?

Monster by Sanyika Shakkur. The lesson to learn: Sometimes the ends justify the means, regardless of the ramification.

Q: What is one thing you can’t live without?

Football season.