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President Reed to Give Commencement Address at Rollins College

February 26, 2009

President Reed to Receive Honorary Doctorate, Give Commencement Address at Rollins College
Events Celebrate 60th Anniversary of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Receiving Similar Honor

On May 10, 2009, Bethune-Cookman University President Trudie Kibbe Reed will receive an honorary doctorate from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.  The doctor of humane letters degree will be presented at the Rollins commencement ceremony where Dr. Reed will also deliver a commencement address.

Sixty years ago, on February 21, 1949, B-CU’s founder, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, received the honorary doctor of humanities degree at Rollins’ mid-term graduation ceremony.  This is believed to be the first honorary degree awarded to an African-American by a majority institution in the south. 

The awarding of Dr. Bethune’s honorary doctorate was the culmination of a more than twenty-year collaboration among Dr. Bethune, Rollins President Hamilton Holt, and other Rollins faculty and student organizations.  In 1927, Dr. Bethune spoke to a student assembly at Rollins, becoming one of the first African-Americans to address a gathering on the institution’s campus.  The following year, Dr. Bethune began an annual conference and joint seminar session with the Rollins sociology department, bringing students of the two schools together to discuss race relations.  These sessions were conducted for the next twenty years and eventually included participants from Florida A&M University, Edward Waters College, Stetson University and the University of Florida.

“We are very pleased that Dr. Reed will address our graduates and join us in the celebration of the 60th anniversary of Rollins’ presentation of an honorary doctorate to Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. It will be a privilege to welcome her to our campus,” commented Dr. Lewis M. Duncan, president of Rollins College.

“I am honored to be receiving an honorary degree from Rollins College, a distinguished institution and one with a long history of collaboration with Bethune-Cookman University,” noted Reed.  “I am also humbled and blessed to be able to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune in receiving this honor.”

Dr. Trudie Kibbe Reed assumed the presidency of then-Bethune-Cookman College on August 16, 2004 after a successful career in higher education as both a college president and a high-ranking administrator within The United Methodist Church.   Under her leadership, the institution achieved University status in 2007 following the launch of its first master’s degree program.  Dr. Reed received a B.A. degree in sociology and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Texas at Austin.  She earned an M.A. degree and doctorate degree from Columbia University in the area of adult and higher education.

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About Bethune Cookman University:

Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement.  B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000.  For more information, visit

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