Belle Wheelan Recognized for Groundbreaking Career in Higher Ed - Higher Education
Higher Education News and Jobs

Belle Wheelan Recognized for Groundbreaking Career in Higher Ed

by Jamal Eric Watson

WASHINGTON — In a career that spanned more than four decades, Dr. Belle S. Wheelan has undoubtedly touched the lives of many.

On Monday evening, hundreds packed into a hotel ballroom to pay tribute to the longtime trailblazer on being named the recipient of the 2015 Dr. John Hope Franklin Award by Diverse: Issues In Higher Education magazine.

Dr. Belle S. Wheelan said she humbly accepted the award “on behalf of all of those whose lives I’ve touched.”

Dr. Belle S. Wheelan is presented the Dr. John Hope Franklin Award by longtime friend and colleague Dr. Walter G. Bumphus. (Photo by Ron Aira)

Wheelan, 63, who is president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges (COC), received the recognition at the annual meeting of the American Council on Education.

A former community college professor and administrator, Wheelan has carved out a distinguished career in higher education, spending several years as secretary of education for the governor of Virginia before being tapped to lead the regional organization that currently accredits more than 13,000 educational organizations throughout the South.

“This is one of the greatest honors in my 41-year career,” said Wheelan, in an emotional speech. “I humbly accept this award on behalf of all of those whose lives I’ve touched.”

Established in 2004 to recognize the extraordinary career of the pioneering Black historian, scholar and social activist, past recipients include scholars such as Drs. David Levering Lewis, James Comer, Maya Angelou and James M. Rosser.

Dr. Walter G. Bumphus, president of the American Association of Community Colleges, who first met Wheelan 32 years ago while the two were both enrolled in a doctoral program at The University of Texas at Austin, presented Wheelan with the award.

U.S. Senator Mark Warner, who formerly served as governor of Virginia, attended the ceremony and paid tribute to Wheelan, who he appointed as secretary of education in 2001 after she worked as president of Northern Virginia Community College.

“No matter where she went in Virginia, she brought that commitment and energy to every situation,” said Warner. “What she has done for education, Dr. Franklin would be very proud that you have chosen Belle for this distinction. Virginia is better because of her activity as college president and secretary of education.”

Jamal Eric Watson can be reached at jwatson1@diverseeducation.com. You can follow him on Twitter @jamalericwatson.

RELATED ARTICLES >>
Institutions Actively Help Military Members and Veterans Earn College Degrees Matthew Oliveira, who has been in the Coast Guard for 12 years and is currently stationed in South Carolina, knew that he wanted to finish his degree because it would make him more “marketable.” Veterans who graduated recently from University Wit...
For Many, HBCU Mergers and Closures Are Not an Option Colleges and universities will be trumpeting their horns over the next few months, celebrating the beginning of another school year filled with lots of promise and anticipation for many among administrators, teachers, behind-the-scenes staffers and s...
Potential Merger Of Two NJ Colleges Signals Growing Trend Signaling a nationwide higher education trend, two New Jersey community colleges are exploring a potential merger to mitigate years of declining student enrollment and revenue and increase academic and economic opportunities for the region’s resident...
Study: Wide Racial Gaps Persist in College Degree Attainment Compared to White adults in the United States, Black adults are two-thirds as likely to hold a college degree and Latino adults are only half as likely – with both groups attaining degrees at a lower rate in 2016 than White adults did back in 1990. ...
Semantic Tags: