HAPPY – Alabama State University

President Gwendolyn Boyd, students and staff celebrate good times at ASU to "Happy" by Pharrell Williams. Please click on image below to launch the video in a separate window.


Montgomery native Gwendolyn Boyd named Alabama State University president

Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd greets Gov. Robert Bentley after the Alabama State University Board of Trustees offered her the presidency of the university on Friday at the ASU campus in Montgomery.

Mickey Welsh | Montgomery Advertiser By Phillip Rawls

The Associated Press
Published: Friday, December 20, 2013 at 11:00 p.m.

MONTGOMERY | Gwendolyn Boyd went from a Montgomery housing project as a girl to a career with a leadership position at John Hopkins University. Now she’s returning home to try to end a year of turmoil at Alabama State University by becoming its president.

The trustees of Alabama State, headed by Gov. Robert Bentley, voted 11-0 Friday to hire Boyd over retired Brig. Gen. Samuel Nichols of Virginia and Democratic state Sen. Quinton Ross of Montgomery.

“It feels wonderful. This is a defining moment for Alabama State,” the university’s first female president said in an interview.

Boyd, 58, grew up on the poor side of Montgomery, became one of the first black students to integrate Montgomery’s Jefferson Davis High School, and then earned a scholarship to Alabama State, where she got a bachelor’s degree in math.

She got her master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Yale University and her doctorate in divinity from Howard University.

She is currently executive assistant to the chief of staff of the Applied Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins in Maryland.

Trustee Chairman Elton Dean said Boyd stood out because she has roots at the university, but she went elsewhere to achieve recognition before seeking to return home.

He said Boyd has the contacts to help the university increase its donations.

“She’s got a national reputation. We are fortunate to have a person of that character,” he said.

A survey by the student government association found that she was the overwhelming favorite among students.

She replaces Joseph Silver, who parted ways with the university a year ago after questioning some contracts. Boyd called the controversy “a blip on the radar.”

As president, Boyd said her first priority is to bring stability to the 6,000-student university. “Nobody is going to invest in you if they don’t see stability,” she told the trustees.

She said her goals include reinvigorating the alumni association, adding a school of engineering and raising money to provide scholarships to existing students with good grades so they don’t graduate with so much student loan debt. She said she also plans to travel to other states to recruit more students.

The university still must negotiate a contract with her. Dean said her salary wouldn’t exceed Silver’s $325,000 annual salary.

Her predecessor signed a $685,000 severance agreement with the university a year ago after serving three months.

His questioning of contracts prompted the governor to hire a forensic auditing firm to review the Montgomery university. Forensic Strategic Solutions is still working on its report, but its preliminary findings in October raised concerns about fraud and waste. In response, the university sued the auditing firm and had its regular auditor do a review. Interim President William Harris said it turned up no misconduct. The governor, who is president of the trustee board by virtue of his office, said Friday he may discontinue the forensic audit because the preliminary findings have been turned over to state and federal prosecutors.

“We will let the legal system do its job,” he said.

Talking with Bentley after the vote, Boyd said she wants to work with the governor to assess what is right and what is wrong at the university and then fix what is wrong.

“This is a good outcome for Alabama State University,” the governor said.



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Alumni Profile

Gwendolyn E. Boyd











Engineer; Activist

Dr. Gwendolyn Elizabeth Boyd returns on February 1, 2014 to her alma mater as its 14th President, after an extraordinary career of leadership and public service that has spanned more than three decades in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area. A Montgomery, Ala., native, Boyd earned her undergraduate degree from Alabama State University (ASU), with a major in mathematics and a double minor in physics and music. Upon graduation, Boyd received a fellowship to pursue graduate work at Yale University, where she was the first African- American female to earn a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from this Ivy League institution. She also has earned both the Master of Divinity and the Doctor of Ministry degrees from Howard University.

Alabama State University, BA, mathematics, 1977; Yale University, MS, mechanical engineering, 1979.


John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, engineer, 1980-98, assistant for development programs, 1998-2004, executive assistant to the chief of staff, 2004-.

Life's Work

In her career as an engineer at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory, and in her dedicated community service, Gwendolyn E. Boyd has been a prominent advocate for women's equality and for the recruitment of black Americans into science and engineering.

Became an Engineer

Attending public schools in Montgomery, Boyd enjoyed math and science. She began to think that she might become an engineer, although she had no role models or knowledge of what engineers did. However while attending Alabama State University on a four-year scholarship; Boyd realized that engineering was a profession in
which she could apply her interests in mathematics and science to practical problems. In 1977 she graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and a double minor in physics and music.

A graduate fellowship enabled Boyd to enter the Yale University School of Engineering where she was the only woman and the only black among her program's 25 students. Specializing in acoustics, Boyd earned her master's degree in mechanical engineering in 1979 and went to work for IBM in Kingston, New York.

The following year Boyd joined the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) as a team engineer. For almost two decades in APL's Strategic Systems Department, Boyd used her background in acoustics to test and evaluate submarine navigation systems for the Department of the Navy. Most of her research work remained classified.

Joined the APL Administration

In 1998 Boyd combined her scientific background with her administrative skills–garnered through years of
community service–to become the APL Assistant for Development Programs. In this role she served as liaison for APL's external programs, including research programs at other universities.

Boyd helped develop the Atlas Scholars Program–the APL Technology Leaders Summer Internship Program for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and Minority Institutions. ATLAS provides paid summer internships for qualified college seniors majoring in electrical engineering and computer science.

The president of JHU appointed Boyd to the JHU Diversity Leadership Council, which worked to expand diversity among the university's faculty, staff, and student body. Boyd served as chair of the Council between 2003 and 2005. In 2004 Boyd became executive assistant to the APL chief of staff.

Devoted Herself to Service

Boyd joined the board of directors of United Way of the National Capital Area in 1984. Between 1997 and 2001, Boyd served as board chair.

Boyd joined the board of directors of the APL Federal Credit Union in 1993, eventually serving as vice-chair and chair. As of 2004 she was immediate-past chair. She was the founding chair of the board of directors of the National Partnership for Community Leadership, based in Washington, D.C. Boyd also served as the Honorary Vice Chairperson for the Bethune Visionary Committee Bronze Statue Project. In 2004 she joined the ministerial staff of the Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church in Fort Washington, Maryland. In 2005 Boyd joined the national board of the Alzheimer's Foundation.

Boyd told Contemporary Black Biography in November of 2004 that she was particularly proud of her work since 1994 as a mentor with the Meyerhoff Scholars Program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Record numbers of minority students from this program have gone on to pursue doctoral research in mathematics, science, engineering, and technology.

Drawing on her experiences at APL, Boyd oversaw the 2003 launch of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, INC. SEE Connection, a five-year initiative promoting "Science and Everyday Experiences." In conjunction with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and funding from the National Science Foundation, SEE was a component of a broader effort to encourage women and minorities to consider careers in science and engineering. Delta SEE radio programs, primarily distributed to HBCU and other stations with large black audiences, featured interviews with black scientists, mathematicians, and engineers. The SEE program also produced websites and various print materials, including science pages for children and their families in black newspapers.

In addition, Boyd served on the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Foundation Board, on the Advisory Council of the College of Engineering, Architecture, and Physical Science at Tuskegee University, and as a member of the Metropolitan Area Network of Minority Women in Science. In 2005 Boyd joined the Bennett College for Women Board of Visitors.

Recognized for Her Achievements

Boyd has been the recipient of the 1996 Black Engineer of the Year Public Service Award. Boyd has received congressional citations and acknowledgements in the Congressional Record and has been presented with keys from more than 20 cities, for of which have declared "Gwendolyn E. Boyd Days."

Ebony named Boyd among the "100+ Organization Leaders" in 2001 and 2002 and among the "100+ Most Influential Black Americans" in 2003 and 2004. In 2003 she was recognized by US Black Engineer magazine as one of the nation's "Most Distinguished Black College and University Graduates."

As a sought-after lecturer, Boyd frequently addressed groups ranging from small classrooms to international conferences. In addition to technical presentations, her subjects have included non-profit board development,
leadership development, black American history and women's history, as well as inspirational and motivational topics.

In March of 2004, as reported in America's Intelligence Wire, Boyd spoke at the U. S. Department of Energy's Office of Economic Impact and Diversity celebration of National Women's History and National African American Months: "Women are everywhere and doing everything…. We need to make sure that we celebrate those women who challenged the debate, those who have been part of making the change, those who know that education is the key, and that knowledge is powerful."


Selected: Black Engineer of the Year, Outstanding Alumnus Achievement, 2000; Black AIDS Institute, "Heroes in the Struggle," 2004; Johns Hopkins University Women's Network, Women's Leadership Award, 2004; U. S. Secretary of Energy, Special Recognition Award, 2004; Lincoln University, honorary doctorate of humane letters, 2005; the 2005 Maynard Jackson Leadership Award from Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (Atlanta Chapter); Who’s Who Among African Americans; the 2004 Women’s Leadership Award from the Johns Hopkins University Women’s Network; and citations for public service and leadership from the Congressional Black Caucus; the Governor of Maryland, the Maryland State Senate, the Maryland House of Representatives, the Mayor of Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, MD.

“Gwendolyn E. Boyd Day” has been declared in some of the following cities: Selma, AL; Mobile, AL; Shreveport, Louisiana; Jacksonville, NC; Rochester, New York; and in the District of Columbia.

ASU Today

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