Ph.D. Provost, Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs, North Carolina Central University Durham, N.C.
Beverly Washington Jones lives by her mantra “Give to the world the best you have and the best will come back to you.” Provost and vice-chancellor for academic affairs at North Carolina Central University, she is second in command at the very school where she earned her a bachelor of arts and a master of arts. She made history as the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate in history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Jones is passionate about education and is happy as vice-chancellor, which puts her in charge of all academic operations. She insists that touching one life at a time can make a world of difference. It’s a belief that underpins her efforts to narrow the academic achievement gap between Blacks and other ethnic groups. Her life has been shaped by supportive efforts, she asserts as she explains why she is committed to being an advocate for programs and activities that support closing the gap. “This gap starts in kindergarten and goes up to twenty years of age. These students don’t have strong academic readiness,” she says.
Jones’s parents did not graduate from high school, but they stressed the importance of family, gratitude, humility and education to Jones and her siblings. All 11 children atten-ded college, but their parents constantly reminded each of them never to forget “from whence they came.”
With the support of her parents, husband and family, Jones is able to accomplish many feats in life. Her mentors include the late historian Helen Edmonds and renowned scholar John Hope Franklin, both of whom inspired her to be a courageous and humble activist who pioneers change with confidence. With enough time and money, she would establish a school for school dropouts who are in danger of being caught up in the juvenile justice system, Jones says wistfully. She would design a program to help these youngsters develop life-sustaining and life-enhancing skills. It’s a dream she may yet realize.