May 27, 1999
University Gazette


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Educator Johnnetta Cole Awarded Radcliffe Medal by the RCAA

Johnnetta B. Cole, former president of Spelman College and a member of the faculty at Emory University, has been awarded the Radcliffe Medal, Radcliffe officials announced today. The Radcliffe Medal is presented each spring by the Radcliffe College Alumnae Association (RCAA) to an individual whose life and work have had a significant impact on society.

"Dr. Cole's record of community service and advocacy are testimony to the significant contributions she has made to the cause of justice in this country and throughout the world," said RCAA President Jane E. Tewksbury. "As is true of all Radcliffe Medalists, Dr. Cole's life and work epitomize the mission of Radcliffe to advance society by advancing women."

Currently the Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory, Cole is best known for her presidency of Spelman College, which under her leadership became the first historically African-American college to receive a number one ranking in U.S. News & World Report's annual college issue. Cole also spearheaded Spelman's largest-ever capital campaign, raising nearly $114 million.

Cole will receive the Radcliffe Medal on Friday, June 11, at the annual alumnae luncheon in Radcliffe Yard. After receiving her award, Cole will deliver a keynote address to several hundred Radcliffe College alumnae and other members of the Radcliffe and Harvard community.

"I refuse to imagine accepting an award from an organization that I do not respect," said Cole. "In the case of Radcliffe, it's not just respect or admiration; it's also sisterly love."

After entering college at the age of 15, Cole earned a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Northwestern University. She is the author of two books, Conversations: Straight Talk With America's Sister President and Dream the Boldest Dreams: And Other Lessons of Life.

In addition to the 1999 Radcliffe Medal, Cole has received honorary degrees from 41 colleges and universities, including Princeton, Yale, and the University of Sussex in Brighton, England.

Last year's Radcliffe Medal was awarded to Attorney General Janet Reno. Other past recipients include Elizabeth Dole, Katharine Graham, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Derek Bok, Jessye Norman, and Alice Walker.


Copyright 1999 President and Fellows of Harvard College