Former Andrew W. Mellon Foundation President Earl Lewis to Speak at Berea College Commencement


Earl Lewis

Dr. Earl Lewis, former president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Dr. Earl Lewis, former president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will speak at Berea College’s 2018 Commencement Ceremony, May 6 at 2 p.m.

A noted social historian, Lewis has held faculty appointments at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Michigan. During his career he has championed the importance of diversifying the academy, enhancing graduate education, re-visioning the liberal arts, exploring the role of digital tools for learning and connecting universities to their communities. Lewis currently is the founding director of the Center for Social Solutions at the University of Michigan.

In 2013, Lewis became the sixth president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Under his leadership, the Foundation reaffirmed its commitment to the humanities, the arts and higher education by emphasizing the importance of continuity and change.

Previously, Lewis served as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and the Asa Griggs Candler professor of history and African American Studies at Emory University. As provost, he led academic priority-setting for the university.

Lewis is the author and co-editor of seven books, including “Our Compelling Interests: The Value of Diversity for Democracy and a Prosperous Society” (with Nancy Cantor, Princeton University Press, 2016), “The African American Urban Experience: Perspectives from the Colonial Period to the Present” (with Joe William Trotter and Tera W. Hunter, Palgrave Macmillan, 2004); “Defending Diversity: Affirmative Action at the University of Michigan” (with Jeffrey S. Lehman and Patricia Gurin, University of Michigan Press, 2004); “Love on Trial: An American Scandal in Black and White” (with Heidi Ardizzone, WW Norton, 2001); the award-winning “To Make Our World Anew: A History of African Americans” (with Robin D.G. Kelley, Oxford University Press, 2000); “In Their Own Interests: Race, Class and Power in 20th Century Norfolk” (University of California Press, 1991); as well as the 11-volume “The Young Oxford History of African Americans” (with Robin D.G. Kelley, Oxford University Press, 1995–1997); and the award-winning book series “American Crossroads” (University of California Press).

A native of Tidewater, Virginia, Lewis earned an undergraduate degree in history and psychology from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, and a doctorate in history from the University of Minnesota. Since 2008, Lewis has been a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Carnegie Mellon University presented an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to Lewis in 2016. He was previously conferred an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Rutgers University-Newark and from Dartmouth College in 2015. He also received an honorary Doctor of Humanities from Concordia College in 2002 Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota in 2001 and the Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award from the University of Michigan in 1999.

Tickets are required for admission to the Commencement ceremony. Tickets must be obtained in advance and are required for main arena as well as overflow seating for Commencement. Watch the ceremony via livestream on May 6 at 2 p.m. here.

Earlier in the day, a Nurses’ Pinning Ceremony will take place at 8:30 a.m. in Phelps Stokes Chapel. The Baccalaureate Ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m. in Phelps Stokes Chapel. The Rev. Loretta Reynolds, dean of the Chapel at Berea College, will be the speaker. (No tickets are required for the Nurses’ Pinning or the Baccalaureate ceremonies.)

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Tags: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, commencement, Dr. Earl Lewis, graduation

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College admits only academically promising students with limited financial resources, primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia, although students come from 40 states and 70 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally-recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly, earning money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.