Gloria Ladson-Billings to deliver TU Commencement speech, receive honorary degree

By Sean Welsh on May 19, 2019

Educator and theorist Gloria Ladson-Billings will deliver remarks during the College of Education commencement at Towson University.

Gloria Ladson-Billings
Gloria Ladson-Billings

Educator and theorist Gloria Ladson-Billings will serve as Towson University's Commencement Speaker, and will deliver remarks during the College of Education commencement ceremony this week.

TU will present Ladson-Billings with an honorary degree.

Ladson-Billings will speak during the first of six ceremonies from May 22-24 at SECU Arena. TU celebrates commencement with separate ceremonies for each of the six colleges, with the University Commencement Speaker title bestowed upon one speaker each year in a rotation among the colleges.

Ladson-Billings is the Kellner Family Distinguished Professor Emerita in Urban Education in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction and is Faculty Affiliate in the Departments of Educational Policy Studies, Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis and Afro American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the current president of the National Academy of Education. She was the 2005--2006 president of the American Educational Research Association.

Ladson-Billings’ research examines the pedagogical practices of teachers who are successful with African American students. She also investigates critical race theory applications to education.

"We are deeply honored to have a scholar with Dr. Ladson-Billings’ reputation for excellence as our University Commencement Speaker," said Melanie Perreault, provost and executive vice president of academic affairs at TU. "Her work is transformative and stands as a model for all of us as we seek to make all levels of education inclusive.”

Ladson-Billings is the author of the critically acclaimed books, The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children, Crossing over to Canaan: The Journey of New Teachers in Diverse Classrooms, and Beyond the Big House: African American Educators on Teacher Education. She is editor of 6 other books and author of more than 100 journal articles and book chapters. She is the former editor of the American Educational Research Journal and a member of several editorial boards.

Her work has won numerous scholarly awards, including the H. I. Romnes Faculty Fellowship, Spencer Post-doctoral Fellowship, and the Palmer O. Johnson outstanding research award. She is the 2015 winner of the Social Justice in Education Award given by the American Educational Research Association. She was named the 2012 winner of the Brock International Prize in education.

In 2012 she was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Alicante, Alicante, Spain. In 2010 she was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Massachusetts – Lowell. In 2002 she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden. During the 2003--2004 academic year she was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California. In fall 2004 she received the George and Louise Spindler Award from the Council on Anthropology and Education for significant and ongoing contributions to the field of educational anthropology. In spring 2005 she was elected to the National Academy of Education and the National Society for the Study of Education. In 2007 she was awarded the Hilldale Award, the highest faculty honor given to a professor at the University of Wisconsin for outstanding research, teaching, and service. She is a 2008 recipient of the state of Wisconsin’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Heritage Award and the Teachers College, Columbia University 2008 Distinguished Service Medal. In 2009 she was elected to Kappa Delta Pi International Education Honor Society’s Laureate Chapter—comprised of 60 living distinguished scholars. Former laureate members include notables such as Albert Einstein, John Dewey and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Ladson-Billings is currently one of the NEA Foundation Fellows charged with providing advice on its “Achievement Gap Initiative.” In 2014 she was a panelist on the White House’s African American Educational Excellence Initiative’s Essence Festival, “Smart Starts at Home” panel. In 2015 she received the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award from the Literacy Research Association. In 2016 she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Benjamin Banneker Association of the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics.

In addition to her scholarly activities Ladson-Billings has been an active member of the broader community. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Urban League of Greater Madison, a member of the Vision Council of the United Way of Dane County, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Madison Children’s Museum.

She formerly served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and remains an active advocate for African American women’s health. In 2007 Ladson-Billings was ordained as a deacon in her church, only the second woman in the church’s 105-year history. Ladson-Billings is 50-year and life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and a member of The Links, Inc.

She will deliver remarks at the College of Education commencement ceremony on May 22. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. at SECU Arena.

Here is a list of other notable individuals scheduled to speak at commencement this May:

College of Education » May 22, 10 a.m.

Alumni Speaker: Kara Ball '08

College of Fine Arts and Communications » May 22, 3 p.m.

Alumni Speaker: Brian Stelter '07

College of Business & Economics » May 23, 10 a.m.

Alumni Speaker: Brian Davis '97

College of Health Professions » May 23, 3 p.m.

Alumni Speaker: Richard Holley '96

Fisher College of Science & Mathematics » May 24, 10 a.m.

Alumni Speaker: E. Clarke Porter '76

College of Liberal Arts » May 24, 3 p.m.

Alumni Speaker: Gerry Gaeng '81

TU also celebrates each ceremony with a speaker from within the undergraduate and graduate candidate pools in order to share remarks with their fellow graduates.

President Kim Schatzel will address graduates in each ceremony, as well.