As we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month. It’s only right that we shed light on the powerful women who have made monumental strides in contributing to the growth of society. I wanted to take time out to honor black female Presidents of HBCUs. Even though 62% of Historically Black Colleges and Universities student bodies are made up of women, female Presidents of these institutions are few and far between as men predominately hold those positions. Today we honor these three black women Presidents who have broken barriers and continue to elevate as each year passes


Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio. Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette is the first female President of the combined institutions of Huston and Tillotson Colleges and only the 2nd Female president in the institution’s 140-year history. Dr. Burnette is committed to making sure her students receive the education that they deserve. Not only is she recognized for expanding the growth of the historically black colleges but she is also instrumental in performing citywide civic leadership.  Before transitioning into higher education, Dr. Pierce Burnette worked as a Computer Analyst at The Washington Post, and she was an Operations Support Engineer at Proctor and Gamble. She also ran her own computer consulting firm named “CompuMent.”  Over the years the talented President has received many honors such as the Ohio State University Outstanding Engineering Alumni Award, Anti-Defamation League Community Hero Award, Urban Land Institute Visionary Award, iACT Hope Award, Mosaic Award, Austin Women’s Hall of Fame, Girls Empowerment Network Award, She was named one of the Ten Most Influential Women in Austin, Distinguished Woman of the Year Award, and much more. 

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Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, and raised in West Virginia, Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis is the 14th president of Benedict College and the first female to hold the position. One of Dr. Artis’s focuses is on transforming colleges and universities that serve underrepresented men and women of color into extraordinary institutions that soar beyond expectations. She graduated from Vanderbilt University, where she earned a Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership and Policy. She also earned a Juris Doctorate from West Virginia School of Law.  Dr. Artis is a charismatic prolific speaker and advocates for educational access. She spent 10 years as a corporate attorney before realizing her true passion and entering the world of academics. Her heroic gestures awarded her many honors. In 2018, she was named “Female HBCU President of the Year ” by HBCU Digest.  In 2019, Dr. Artis was named to Diverse Issues in Higher Education’s “Top 35 Leading Women in Higher Education.” In 2020, Dr. Artis was named “President of the Year ” by Higher Ed Dive for her leadership. What continues to make her stand out is that she has a mixture of corporate and education experience which allows her to navigate through challenges and implement successful strategies to grow the university.

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Born and raised in Mount Airy, North Carolina, Dr. Paulette Dillard is the 18th President of Shaw University. Her focus is enhancing achievements and advancing the knowledge of her students. Before transitioning over to President, she was Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Dr. Dillard graduated from Belmont University where she earned an MBA. She also earned a Ph.D. in Cell Biology from Clark Atlanta University. Dr. Paulette is a trained medical technologist and has over twenty-five years of experience working in the field of diagnostic laboratory medicine. She received the Mayor’s Award for Commitment to Community, which honored her dedication to improving the quality of life and her service to different organizations. Her commitment to the university and her students is evident that she will lead Shaw University into the next era of excellence and success.

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