History-making scholar and academic pioneer Dr. Delores Aldridge, a Clark Atlanta University trustee, made a landmark $150,000 donation to the HBCU’s school.
Just as monumental, Aldridge also donated her academic papers to the will be housed in the University’s official repository, the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Archives.
As a result of her largesse, CAU will name the auditorium in its Thomas W. Cole Center for Research in Science and Technology after Aldridge and her late husband, Kwame Essuon, an electrical engineer who was lead supervisor in the development of train control for the ATL’s Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority’s (MARTA) rapid rail system.
“Clark Atlanta has been the strong foundation for my lifelong educational, professional and civic pursuits,” said Aldridge, who came to the University as her high school’s valedictorian in 1959.
Universally admired in academia, Aldridge graduated valedictorian with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology from Clark College in 1963, and then earned her master’s degree in social work from Atlanta University in 1966. In 1971, Aldridge became the first African-American woman to procure her Ph.D. degree in sociology from Purdue University. That same year, she became the founding director of the first degree-granting African and African-American Studies Program at a major private university in the South, at Emory, as well as the first African-American woman to receive a tenure-track faculty position there.
She is currently a member of six honorary societies, including: Alpha Kappa Mu. Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Alpha Kappa Delta and the International Who’s Who of Intellectuals. She has served as president of three national scholarly organizations.
“There is an academic energy, a high standard that frames the institution’s academic enterprise,” said Aldridge. “I hope that my contributions will create opportunities for students to embrace and expand this tradition in the years to come. I hope that my papers will be considered more as ‘scaffolding” for solutions yet to be created than a pathway into the past.”
Clark Atlanta University President Carlton E. Brown said, “the gift of Aldridge’s writings establishes a rich, contemporary frame of reference in the social sciences that affirms the sterling caliber of scholarship associated with this University and its pivotal role in the study of humans and human issues in our culture.”
Aldridge stands in historic circles. World-revered genius W.E.B. Du Bois, author of the timeless classic Souls of Black Folks was an American sociologist, historian and activist, completed many of his most seminal works while serving as an Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University) instructor, returning after a self-imposed moratorium to chair the school’s department of sociology.