APLU Names PVAMU Alumnus Ernie Collins Inaugural Recipient of 1890 Universities Career Exemplar Awards

November 19, 2015

APLU Names Inaugural Recipients of the 1890 Universities Career Exemplar Awards, Celebrates the 125th Anniversary of the Second Morrill Act 

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today named 19 recipients of its inaugural 1890 Universities Career Exemplar Awards. The recipients, distinguished alumni representing each of the 19 historically black land-grant universities, have achieved excellence in navigating their career pathway and providing mentorship to other traditionally underrepresented students pursuing similar career pathways. The awardees were nominated by their alma maters and evaluated on their commitment to institution, individual achievement, civic engagement and impact in providing access, opportunities and mentorship to current students and new alumni. The recipients were honored at APLU’s Annual Meeting now underway in Indianapolis, IN.

“The first class of 1890 Career Exemplar Awards recipients are a testament to the tremendous contributions 1890 institutions make to our society through their instruction, research and community engagement,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “These alumni have not only achieved success in their own careers, but worked with their alma maters and current students to serve the institutions that had such a formative influence on them.”

“The 1890 Career Exemplar Awards recipients reflect the broad diversity and great achievement of 1890 Universities and their alumni,” said Dr. RoSusan D. Bartee, Interim Vice President of Access and Success. “As we celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Second Morrill Act, their stories remind us of the power of the 1890 land-grant community and the progress we can continue to drive through these institutions and their students.”

The names, alma maters and achievements of the recipients of the inaugural 1890 Career Exemplar Awards are listed below:

  • Billy Bridgeforth of Alabama A&M University is Chairman of the National Black Growers Council and he has been featured in several trade publications. In 2013, the White House named him a “Champion of Change for Agriculture.”
  • Jesse Harness of Alcorn State University has served as a member and chairman of the USDA Secretary of Agriculture’s National Commission on Small Farms and Advisory Committee on Small Farms. In 2005, he was inducted into the George Washington Carver Hall of Fame.
  • Morakinyo A. O. Kuti of Central State University is the Director of Sponsored Programs and Research at Central State University and an alumnus of the university. He was instrumental in the development of the $4.7 million Center of Excellence in STEM and STEM Education proposal funded by Department of Defense in 2010.
  • David Turner of Delaware State University is Global Analytics leader for Banking and Financial Markets for IBM and Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Delaware State University. In 2002, Fortune magazine named him “50 Most Powerful Black Executives in America.”
  • Doris Hicks of Florida A&M University taught for 36 years in the public school system as an elementary teacher and is a lifelong volunteer for the local guardian ad litem program in Polk County, Florida. As President of the Polk County Alumni Chapter of the Florida A&M University National Alumni Association, she established an endowment to ensure students from Polk County receive yearly funding until graduation.
  • The Honorable Calvin Smyre of Fort Valley State University is a business executive, state legislator, and community and national leader. He is President Emeritus of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.
  • Donald C. Hylton, Sr. of Kentucky State University is a veteran of over 40 years of the plastic industry. While at ExxonMobil, he was active in their diversity efforts that led to the hiring and promotions of minorities and women within the organization.
  • Sherman L. Lewis of Langston University retired in 1997 as Deputy Administrator for Management and Strategic Planning at the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Soil Conservation Service, now the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Upon retirement, Mr. Lewis dedicated eight years of service to Langston University as the Center of Outreach Programs Director.
  • Charles E. Seeney of Lincoln University is founder and former Managing Director of NewTech @ The NanoPoint. He is a scientist and entrepreneur with a central focus on the management of Intellectual Property.
  • Willie A. Deese of North Carolina A&T State University is Executive Vice President and President of the Merck Manufacturing Division, with responsibility for Merck’s worldwide manufacturing operations. He has also served on the North Carolina A&T Board of Trustees.
  • Ernie Collins of Prairie View A&M University joined Humble Oil and Refinery Company, now ExxonMobil, in 1969 and worked in various marketing staff and management positions until his retirement in 2003. Mr. Collins and his wife are strong supporters of youth and education and have established scholarship funds at Prairie View A&M University and Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • The Honorable James Clyburn of South Carolina State University is the U.S. Representative for South Carolina’s 6th congressional district, serving since 1993, and the Assistant Democratic Leader since 2011. President Barack Obama has said Representative Clyburn is, “One of a handful of people who, when they speak, the entire Congress listens.” He has supported higher education by leading the charge for increased Pell grants, investing millions in science and math programs and historic preservation at HBCUs.
  • Leodrey Williams of Southern University and A & M College built a career in Extension education. He was appointed Special Assistant to the United States Department of Agriculture Extension Administrator and five months later, the Secretary of Agriculture appointed him the National Director of Extension.
  • Olga G. Hudson of Tennessee State University was inducted into the Tennessee Teachers Hall of Fame in May 1997 and served for 40 years as a teacher at the Metropolitan Nashville Public School System.
  • Mortimer H. Neufville of Tuskegee University served a distinguished career at the National Association of State Universities and Land-grant Colleges (NASULGC), now APLU. In 2006, he assumed the role of Executive Vice President at NASULGC and retired in 2008. He later served Interim President at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
  • Pearlie S. Reed of the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff served as Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for the United States Department of Agriculture from 2009 and 2012. He was a position that he was nominated for by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the United States Senate.
  • Emmanuel T. Acquah of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore serves as Director of International Programs, and Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. He has received a number of international honors including being appointed to the Advisory Committee of U.S. Response to Cutting Hunger in Half in Africa and to the United States Agency for International Development’s Strategic Partnership for Agricultural Research and Education Committee.
  • Walter F. Johnson III of West Virginia State University attained the rank of Brigadier General in the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps, the highest grade that could be achieved in the Medical Service Corps at that time. Upon retirement, Mr. Johnson received the Army’s highest award for achievement, the Distinguished Service Medal.
  • Antonio A. McLaren of Virginia State University joined the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture as a National Program Leader. In this role, he is responsible for managing and providing leadership for the 1890 Capacity Building Grants Program and the Higher Education Challenge Grants Program.