Keynote and Plenary Speakers

Opening Plenary: Reflections & Lessons from a New Dean

Barbara Krauthamer, Dean of the Graduate School and Professor of History, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Barbara Krauthamer is the Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is an eminent historian of slavery and emancipation in the 19th century American South, a devoted mentor to graduate students, and an innovative leader. A member of the History Department faculty since 2008, Barbara was named associate dean for student inclusion and engagement in the Graduate School in 2015. In that role, she created multiple fellowship programs designed to support the recruitment and retention of traditionally underrepresented graduate students. In addition to the REAL fellows program, she initiated the Summer Dissertation Fellows program and the STEM Faculty-Student Research Fellowship. These fellowship programs facilitate multiple mentoring pathways for graduate students to ensure that they have access to both financial resources and mentoring and support networks. Barbara has also worked closely with the Graduate School’s Office of Professional Development to promote diversity issues and ensure that professional development programs reach broad audiences across campus.

Dr. Krauthamer is widely recognized as a leading historian of African American slavery and emancipation in the United States. Her published work includes Black Slaves, Indian Masters: Slavery, Emancipation, and Citizenship in the Native American South. She is the co-author of Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery, which received a number of honors, most notably the 2013 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Non-fiction. Most recently, she co-edited the textbook, Major Problems in African American History, one of the leading textbooks in the field. She has authored numerous articles, curated exhibits and written pieces for general audiences. She appears in the award-winning documentary film, Through A Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People. Her research and books have been profiled in many media outlets, including the New York Times, CBS Evening News, National Public Radio, Pacifica Radio and CNN as well as in media outlets in the U.K., France and Italy.

Dr. Krauthamer received her B.A. from Dartmouth College, a master’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis, and her Ph.D. from Princeton University.

Luncheon Keynote: Remaining True to Your Voice and Scholarship

Menah Pratt-Clarke, Vice President for Strategic Affairs, Vice Provost for Inclusion and Diversity, and Professor of Education, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)

Menah Pratt-Clarke is the Vice President for Strategic Affairs and Vice Provost for Inclusion and Diversity at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). She is also Professor of Education in the School of Education in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, with affiliations in Africana Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, and the Department of Sociology.

Dr. Pratt-Clarke has more than 20 years of administrative, academic, and legal experience in higher education, with a focus on executing and coordinating large-scale strategic initiatives that promote institutional transformation. Prior to joining Virginia Tech, she had senior administrative positions and faculty positions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Vanderbilt University.  As a scholar-administrator, she believes in the importance of praxis and using scholarship to inform and lead change in higher education.

Her research interests include critical race studies, Black feminism, and critical race feminism, with a particular focus on issues of transdisciplinary analysis of diversity issues in higher education.  In addition to her first book, Critical Race Feminism and Education:  A Social Justice Model (2012), two other books, Journeys of Social Justice: Women of Color Presidents in the Academy (Peter Lang, 2017) and Reflections on Race, Gender, and Culture in Cuba (Peter Lang, 2017) were released last year.  New for 2018, A Black Woman’s Journey from Cotton Picking to College Professor: Lessons about race, gender, and class in America (Peter Lang, 2018).

Dr. Pratt-Clarke has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa with a major in English and minors in Philosophy and African-American Studies. She received her master’s degree in Literary Studies from the University of Iowa and a master’s degree in Sociology from Vanderbilt University. In addition, she earned her PhD in Sociology and her law degree from Vanderbilt University.

Closing Plenary: Finding Your Way and Place in the Academic Ranks

Jamila Michener,  Assistant Professor of Government, Cornell University

Jamila Michener’s research focuses on poverty, racial inequality and public policy in the United States. Her work explores two overarching themes: the conditions under which economically and racially disadvantaged groups engage in the political process, and the role of the state in shaping the political and economic trajectories of marginalized communities.

Centering on these concerns, Dr. Michener’s research has been supported by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Her recent book, Fragmented Democracy: Medicaid, Federalism and Unequal Politics (Cambridge University Press) examines how Medicaid – the nation’s public health insurance program for people with low income – affects democratic citizenship. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and her undergraduate degree from Princeton University. Prior to working at Cornell, she was a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Scholar at the University of Michigan.

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