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FRANKFORT — The search committee for the Atwood Institute for Race, Education and the Democratic Ideal has identified Dr. Crystal A. deGregory as its preferred candidate to lead the new Center’s work. deGregory is the founder and executive editor of HBCUstory, an advocacy initiative supporting the future of the nation’s HBCUs by preserving, presenting, and promoting inspiring stories of their past and present. deGregory will visit the Kentucky State University campus during Monday’s Encampment 2017.

deGregory is a dynamic professional historian and historically black colleges and universities advocate who credits Fisk University for her passion and love for history as a “growing loving affair.” She received her Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in history from Vanderbilt University. She holds a Master of Education from Tennessee State University and a Bachelor of Arts in history from Fisk University. Her research interests include black higher education and college student activism, with a specific focus on HBCUs.

The search committee, chaired by Assistant General Counsel Christina Leath and Human Resources Director Rayla Smoot, recommended deGregory after a careful review of prominent applicants with extensive resumes and a rigorous interview process.

President M. Christopher Brown II charged the search committee with identifying highly qualified applicants who not only believe in the mission and vision of Kentucky State, but who would be capable of advancing the work of the Atwood Institute.

Five finalists were interviewed — two from Vanderbilt and one each from Duke University, Louisiana State University and the University of Cincinnati.

“I am not surprised by the caliber of the applicants seeking to lead the Atwood Institute,” President M. Christopher Brown II said. “deGregory is a visionary, prominent historian, and highly respected scholar who has been connecting diverse audiences across the nation and globe in sensitive conversations for years. She is passionate about preserving Atwood’s legacy while finding innovative ways to engage the public and guide the work of the institute.”

During her interview, deGregory stated, “The work of the Atwood Institute is an extension of the critical work of Kentucky State University to empower our various stakeholders—our students, our faculty and staff, as well as the public at-large—through transformative thought leadership on the most pressing issues of our time. As an integral part of Kentucky State’s mission, our ultimate goal is to make the world a more safe, truly equitable, and better place for us all.”

The Atwood Institute will advance research, dialogue, and advocacy for anti-racism training and conflict resolution, and exploration of the elements of democracy in solving intractable social problems like poverty, race, and geography. Special research emphasis will be placed on Appalachia, the African Diaspora, and migrant communities.

Officials say the Atwood Institute will use conferences, published research, academic courses and lecture series to examine constructs of diversity, racial, and gender tolerance, and equity building.

The Institute is named for former Kentucky State President Rufus B. Atwood, who served for 33 years and helped to cultivate the school as an accredited land-grant institution.

“For more than 130 years, Kentucky State has sought, in all things, excellence. The Atwood Institute is a natural extension of this long-held mission,” deGregory said. “Its vision, like its namesake Dr. Rufus B. Atwood, and its founder Dr. M. Christopher Brown II, is fueled by the collective courage which is at the crux of what we do and who we are.”


Kentucky State University, building on its legacy of achievement as a historically black, liberal arts, and 1890 Land Grant University affords access to and prepares a diverse population of traditional and non-traditional students through high-quality undergraduate and select graduate programs. Located in Kentucky, KSU offers associate (two-year) degrees in two disciplines, baccalaureate (four-year) degrees in 24 disciplines, master’s degrees in eight disciplines, and one advanced practice doctorate in nursing. KSU has 129 full-time instructional faculty members and more than 2,000 students.