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The University of Alabama

UA Graduate School to Host African American Graduate Education Symposium

ThroughtheDoorslogoTUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama Graduate School will host a symposium titled “Opening the (Graduate) Schoolhouse Door at UA” from 9:45 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, in the Ferguson Center Theatre on campus.

The panel discussion will focus on national leadership in African American graduate education in the 21st century and will feature two early African American graduate students. They include the first to earn a doctorate, along with current students and several faculty members.

The goal of the event is to offer a perspective on how far the UA system has come in the 50 years since integration and how far it will go in years to come.

The symposium is part of “Through the Doors,” a year-long series of activities and events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of UA in 1963. The series honors the courage and dedication of the two African American students who enrolled in the University on June 11, 1963, as well as the University’s ongoing commitment to change over the past 50 years and its commitment to continued progress.  For more information, visit

Panelists include:

Dr. Arthur N. Dunning, professor and senior research fellow in the UA Educational Policy Center. He served as vice chancellor of international programs and outreach for the UA system. Dunning earned a doctorate in 1976.

Dr. Joffre T. Whisenton, president of Joffre T. Whisenton and Associates Inc. He is the former president of the Southern University system and associate executive director of the Commission on Colleges for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In 1968, Whisenton was the first African American to be awarded a doctorate at UA.

Dr. Viola L. Acoff, department head of metallurgical and materials engineering and UA site coordinator for the Alabama LSAMP Program. Acoff has received numerous national and international awards and recognitions, including the National Science Foundation CAREER award.

Dr. Gary A. Hoover, assistant dean for faculty and graduate student development, professor of economics and William White McDonald Family Distinguished Faculty Fellow in the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration.

Dr. Paul B. Mohr Sr., director of special programs for the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, director of the SREB Doctoral Fellowship program and former president of Talladega College. Mohr was awarded the 2013 Martin Luther King Drum Major for Justice Lifetime Achievement Legacy Award in Education.

Dr. Roger B. Sidje, associate dean for multicultural affairs in UA’s College of Arts and Sciences and associate professor of mathematics. Sidje’s service to the University includes chairing the diversity committee of The College of Arts and Sciences.

Kia S. Boyd, Ed.S. candidate in educational studies in psychology, research methodology and counseling. She serves as the Graduate School’s Tide Together coordinator and held a graduate fellowship in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships.

Shannon F. Reeves, Ph.D. candidate in political science and recipient of the McNair Graduate Fellowship.

Derrick D. Stokes, Ph.D. candidate in metallurgical and materials engineering, SREB doctoral scholar and recipient of an Alabama LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship.

E. Jean Swindle, Ph.D. candidate in educational leadership, policy and technology studies and recipient of the McNair Graduate Fellowship.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.

  • CONTACT: Kristi Payne or Richard LeComte, UA Media Relations, 205/348-3782,
  • SOURCE: Dr. Andrew Goodliffe, assistant dean, UA Graduate School, 205/348-7167,