Niara Sudarkasa

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Niara Sudarkasa
Born Gloria Albertha Marshall
(1938-08-14) August 14, 1938 (age 80)
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Education Ph.D. in anthropology, Columbia University (1964)
Occupation Anthropologist

Niara Sudarkasa (born August 14, 1938) is an American scholar, educator, Africanist and anthropologist who holds thirteen honorary degrees, and is the recipient of nearly 100 civic and professional awards.[1] In 1989 Essence magazine named her "Educator for the '90s",[2] and in 2001 she became the first African American to be installed as a Chief in the historic Ife Kingdom of the Yoruba of Nigeria.[3][4]


Niara Sudarkasa was born Gloria Albertha Marshall on August 14, 1938, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Niara was a gifted student who skipped several grades in elementury. She graduated from high school and accepted early admission to Fisk University on a Ford Foundation scholarship when she was 15 years old. She left Fisk and transferred to Oberlin, earning an associates degree in anthropology and English from Oberlin in 1957. She received her master's degree in anthropology from Columbia University. While completing her Ph.D. she taught at Columbia University, becoming the first African-American woman to teach there when she earned her Ph.D. in 1964.[5]

Soon after earning her Ph.D., Sudarkasa was appointed assistant professor of anthropology at New York University, the first black woman to hold that position. She was also the first African American to be appointed to the Department of Anthropology at the University of Michigan in 1969. While at Michigan, she became involved in civil rights and student issues. When she left Michigan in 1986, Sudarkasa became the first female to serve as president of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.

During Surdarkasa's presidency at Lincoln University the school increased enrolment, strengthened its undergraduate and international programs and put into place an ambitious minority recruitment effort.[citation needed]

In the late 1990s, after concerns over improper use of university funds, nepotism and other financial irregularities led the state to withhold its $11m budget contribution, Sudarkas resigned from Lincoln University.[6][7][8][9] She was succeeded by interim president James Donaldson, and then by Ivory Nelson.

Niara Sudarkasa was the Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida,[5] and sits on the board of directors for several organizations including the Academy for Educational Development. Her personal papers can be found at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center's Special Collections and Archives.[10]


  • The Strength of Our Mothers: African & African American Women & Families : Essays and Speeches. (1997) Africa World Press.
  • Where Women Work: a Study of Yoruba Women in the Marketplace and in the Home. (1973) University of Michigan Press.
  • The Barnes Bond Connection. with David Levering Lewis and Julian Bond. (1995) Lincoln University Press.
  • Exploring the African- American experience. (1995) Lincoln University Press.
  • Building a partnership in education: The key to African development. (1992) NAFEO Excellence, Inc.
  • Education Is Still the Key: Selected Speeches & Essays. (1998) Africa World Press.


  1. ^ (2005) "Niara Sudarkasa Biography" Retrieved 2007-08-15. Archived September 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Washington, E.B. (1989) "Niara Sudarkasa: Educator for the 1990s," Essence, May.
  3. ^ "Niara Sudarkasa Biography" Retrieved 2007-09-24. Archived February 7, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "Sudarkasa named chief of Ife". Kappa Omicron website. Retrieved 2007-08-15. Archived August 22, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ a b "Niara Sudarkasa". Academy for Educational Development. Retrieved 2007-08-15. Archived July 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Sudarkasa’s epilogue – Niara Sudarkasa, Lincoln University – Interview
  7. ^ Sudarkasa resigns in wake of state’s audit report – Lincoln University, Niara Sudarkasa
  8. ^ Art, audits, and allegations – Lincoln University, President Niara Sudarkasa
  9. ^ Lincoln U. Prez Quits Trustees Pushed Her Out After State Held Up $11m In Funding
  10. ^