Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee announced today that Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Chair of American’s Promise Alliance Alma and Fisk alumna Alma Johnson Powell(’57) will receive an honorary doctorate degrees and will deliver the convocation addresses at the University’s commencement exercises on May 2, 2011 at 10 a.m. on the campus grounds.
Mayor Cory Booker is the son of civil rights activists and former IBM executives Cary and Carolyn Booker. Booker’s mother, Carolyn, is a 1961 graduate and former member of the Fisk University Board of Trustees.
“As a public official who exhibits the values of Fisk University and is a role model for our generation, we celebrate with Mayor Booker and look forward to his visit to our campus,” said Fisk Senior and Student Government Association President Jenise Burks. After graduation in May, Burks, a mathematics major, will be employed at The Royal Bank of Scotland as a risk analyst.
Booker, a graduate of Stanford University, The Queen’s College of Oxford University and Yale University Law School, was first elected as mayor of Newark, New Jersey on May 9, 2006 winning 72 percent of the city’s vote. He was re-elected on May 11, 2010.
Prior to his first term as mayor, Booker served on the Newark City Council from 1998 to 2002 where he advocated for education reform and led public and personal demonstrations against drug trafficking and violent crimes. Booker lost a widely publicized campaign for mayor in 2002, but the following year he founded Newark Now as a non-profit organization to connect Newark residents with resources and services to transform their communities. He was also named a senior fellow at Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. From 1998 through 2006, Booker resided in Brick Towers, a housing complex in Newark’s Central Ward, where he led its tenants to fight for public safety and social mobility in their community.
According to Time Magazine in the first quarter of 2009, Newark experienced its lowest number of homicides since 1959. Under Booker’s leadership, from 2006 to 2008, murders dropped 36%, shooting incidents dropped by 41% and auto thefts dropped by 26%.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a $100 million stock donation in 2010 to benefit Newark Public Schools. The city of Newark has also reduced its budget deficit from $180 million to $73 million in five years. In 2010, Mayor Booker was selected among the top ten finalists for the World Mayor Prize, a biannual award organized by The City Mayor’s Foundation.
Booker is a member of the Board of Trustees at Teacher’s College of Columbia University. Additionally, he has served as a board member at Stanford University and as a member of the Executive Committee at Yale Law School.
Along with Booker, Fisk alumna, author, audiologist and education activist Alma Johnson Powell ( ’57) will receive an honorary doctorate at the University’s commencement exercises.
“The education I received at Fisk University provided the base of all my adult learning. Education makes us who and what we are and I was well prepared for life’s lessons through my years at Fisk,” said Alma J. Powell.
Alma Powell sits on the boards of several educational, cultural, charitable and civic organizations, including her role as chair of the Board of Directors for America’s Promise Alliance. With more than 400 national partners, the Alliance is currently leading a ten-year campaign, Grad Nation, mobilizing America to end the dropout crisis.
In 2010, Powell was appointed by President Barack Obama to be a member of the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Powell has also been honored by Washingtonian magazine as Washingtonian of the Year and is the recipient of the Leadership Award from the Women’s Center in Virginia. From 1989 to 2000, she served as the chairperson of the National Council of the Best Friends Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of young girls.
As her husband General Colin Powell was stationed at the Pentagon, Alma Powell served as the Army liaison to the National Red Cross as part of a team of volunteer consultants from the military services. During General Powell’s tenure as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Alma Powell was the Advisor to the Red Cross of the Military District of Washington. During her husband’s tenure as the 65th Secretary of State, Mrs. Powell served as the honorary president of the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide. She also sat on the advisory board of the Hospitality and Information Service and was an honorary member of the Department of State Fine Arts Committee.
Powell earned her undergraduate degree from Fisk University and went on to graduate studies in speech pathology and audiology at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. She is the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Emerson College, an Honorary Doctor of Humanities from Shenandoah University and the Civic Change Award from the Pew Partnership for Civic Change.
In addition to commencement, Fisk’s 2011 Baccalaureate Celebration will feature Dr. Forrest Harris, president of American Baptist College, at 10 a.m. in Fisk Memorial Chapel.