Berea College President Lyle Roelofs appointed Dr. Linda Strong-Leek as provost, effective July 1. She currently serves the College as vice president for Diversity and Inclusion, associate vice president for Academic Affairs and professor of women’s and gender studies and General studies.
“I am so very excited that Linda is willing to take on this important position,” Roelofs said. “She is superbly qualified and will be the first African-American to serve as a senior academic administrator at Berea College.”
Strong-Leek joined the Berea College faculty in 2002 as an associate professor of women’s and gender studies and general studies. She was interim chair of women’s and gender studies during the 2005-06 and 2011-12 academic years. In 2009, she was named chair of the African and African American studies program. She was elected in 2011 as the first chair of Division VI under the College’s new divisional structure. She became the associate vice-president for Academic Affairs in 2012. In 2015, Strong-Leek became the first vice president for Diversity and Inclusion at Berea College.
Strong-Leek earned both a B.A. in English and M.A. in English and educational administration from North Carolina Central University. She earned a doctoral degree in English, with concentrations in African and African American literature and African American history from Michigan State University. She was an assistant professor of English at Florida International University in Miami before coming to Berea.
A Fulbright Fellow, Strong-Leek taught the first class focused on African women writers at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare in 1998. She participated in a National Endowment for the Humanities Program on African American history as public history at the University of South Carolina in 2007.
She also has participated in leadership development programs, including Higher Education Resource Services (HERS) at Bryn Mawr in 2012 and the National Council of Black Studies Seminar for new directors of Black studies programs in 2010.
Strong-Leek has published on major African authors, including Chinua Achebe, Flora Nwapa and Buchi Emecheta. Her current research focuses on the novels of Caribbean women writers. She is completing a manuscript on the Mami Wata figure in the novels of Caribbean women writers, which she plans to submit to the University Press of Mississippi. She recently co-wrote an article for the latest edition of Diversity and Democracy, published by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, with Berea professors Dr. Yoli Carter and Dr. Chris Green. That article focused on Berea College’s three male initiatives that help students persist and graduate.