Charlene M. Dukes, Ed.D.
Prince George’s Community College
Charlene M. Dukes dreamed of teaching English at a high school, but found no opportunities “within a 200-mile radius” of her hometown. A friend told her about a position for an admissions and financial aid officer at the University of Pittsburgh and she took it, launching her four-decade career in higher education. She is currently president of Prince George’s Community College in Maryland, but she learned a tough lesson long before that appointment.
“Because I am committed to getting things accomplished, there are times when I exhibited a level of impatience as a young staffer. Dr. Helena Hughes, retired dean of students, taught me to understand that colleagues bring different skill sets and different ways of processing information to problems. My role is to listen, ask cogent questions, be inclusive, and evaluate the dialogue against the problems we are working to solve,” she explains.
Higher education should do more to keep students on the path, she contends, with “visible recognition for their successes, even if just for being here or completing assignments,” she explains. “I’m still impatient, but I force myself to step back.” Dukes takes to heart her family motto, “One for All and All for One” in her desire to serve those in need. “My parents taught my eight siblings and me the power of values, commitment, hard work, and service,” she states. A 2013 inductee into the Maryland’s Women Hall of Fame, Dukes is a lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and a member of the Prince George’s County (MD) Chapter of the Links, Inc.
She has a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master’s and doctorate in administrative and policy studies from the University of Pittsburgh. Privately, she plans to spend time researching her family’s genealogy. “That’s been very intriguing to me of late,” she confesses.