Clark Atlanta University Trustee Delores P. Aldridge, Ph.D., has announced a leadership gift of $150,000 to the University. In addition to her monetary contribution, which will be used to strengthen and expand the capacity of the University’s fundraising arm, the double alumna also announced the donation of her academic papers to the University.
Widely revered in academic circles, Aldridge earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology from Clark College in 1963 and her master’s degree in social work from Atlanta University in 1966. In 1971, she became the first African-American woman to receive the Ph.D. degree in sociology from Purdue University. That same year, she became the founding director of the first degree-granting African and African-American Studies Program at a major private university in the South, Emory, as well as the first African-American woman to receive a tenure-track faculty position there.
In appreciation of her largesse, Clark Atlanta University (CAU) will name the auditorium in its Thomas W. Cole Center for Research in Science and Technology after Aldridge and her late husband, Kwame Essuon, an electrical engineer who was lead supervisor in the development of train control for Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority’s rapid rail system. Aldridge’s papers, spanning more than four decades of research, pedagogy and commentary, will be housed in the University’s official repository, the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Archives.
“Clark Atlanta has been the strong foundation for my lifelong educational, professional and civic pursuits,” said Aldridge, who came to the University as her high school’s valedictorian in 1959.
She graduated from Clark College as valedictorian. She is currently a member of six honorary societies, including: Alpha Kappa Mu. Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Alpha Kappa Delta and the International Who’s Who of Intellectuals. She has served as president of three national scholarly organizations.
“There is an academic energy, a high standard that frames the institution’s academic enterprise,” said Aldridge. “I hope that my contributions will create opportunities for students to embrace and expand this tradition in the years to come. I hope that my papers will be considered more as ‘scaffolding” for solutions yet to be created than a pathway into the past.”
Clark Atlanta University President Carlton E. Brown said, “the gift of Aldridge’s writings establishes a rich, contemporary frame of reference in the social sciences that affirms the sterling caliber of scholarship associated with this University and its pivotal role in the study of humans and human issues in our culture.” Iconic intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois, an American sociologist, historian and activist, completed many of his most seminal works while serving as an Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University) instructor, returning after a hiatus to chair the school’s Department of Sociology.
Aldridge is a trailblazer whose work in the fields of race and ethnic relations and the development of African-American studies exemplifies the tradition of Oliver Cox, Charles Johnson and E. Franklin Frazier, and most certainly uplifts the legacies of W.E.B. Du Bois and Whitney M. Young, Jr. While having delivered countless addresses and lectures both in the USA and abroad, she has more than 160 publications, including 20 books and monographs, chapters in books, articles in scholarly journals and commentaries. Her work has focused on intergroup relations, women in the labor market, male-female relationships, health and higher education in the African-American community and cultural democracy and social justice.
In 2000, the University established the Aldridge-McMillan Biennial Faculty and Staff Achievement Awards to honor her commitment to excellence, along with that of Trustee Emeritus Elridge McMillan, Ph.D. In 2003, Emory University inaugurated the Delores P. Aldridge Excellence Awards and, in 2011, The Delores P. Aldridge Graduate Fellowship.