Dorothy C. Yancy

Senior Consultant

Dr. Dorothy Cowser Yancy, a native of Alabama, is the fourteenth and sixteenth president of Shaw University. She was the twelfth president of Johnson C. Smith University (JSCU) and the first female to hold each of these prestigious titles. She retired from Shaw University December 31, 2013 and holds the title of President Emerita at both Johnson C. Smith University and Shaw University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Social Science from Johnson C. Smith University, a Master of Arts degree in History from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Atlanta University (Georgia), with further study at the University of Singapore (Fulbright Scholar), Hampton University, Northeastern Illinois University (Chicago), Northwestern University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from Virginia State University, JCSU and Shaw University.  She earned certificates in management development from Harvard University and is listed as an arbitrator with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services, the National Mediation Board and the American Arbitration Association. She also is a Special Magistrate with the Florida Public Employee Relations Commission and she serves as a consultant on governance, the presidency and other higher education topics.

At Shaw from 2009-2010, she was able to stabilize the financial state of the university, which was listed in the Toxic Asset Group of BankAmerica,  by securing a $31 million federal loan. She restructured and refinanced the university’s debt, balanced the budget, raised the CFI score to a positive number and recruited one of the largest freshmen classes in the history of the university. She retired September 2010. She arrived back at Shaw September 1, 2011 after the campus had been torn apart by the April 16, 2011 tornado.  By April 16, 2012, the devastation had been abated and all buildings were back in use.   In addition, she led the University through five program accreditation reviews and the regular SACSCOC reaffirmation. In December 2013 the university’s accreditation was reaffirmed by SACSCOC with no follow-up. During this period, the Master Plan 2010-2020, the deferred maintenance Plan, and the Strategic Plan 2010-2015 were developed. Further, the Endowment was unitized and policies and procedures and governance structures were developed for all units of the university. The University’s Mission Statement was approved and student learning outcomes for all areas of the college were developed.

As president of JSCU from October 1994 to June 2008, Dr. Yancy marshaled phenomenal growth and progress. During this period, she completed two significant capital campaigns and was heralded as one of the best fundraisers nationally. From 1994 to 2008, she raised more than $145 million for the university. Additionally, during her tenure, the JCSU endowment more than tripled from $14 million to $53 million. At retirement in 2008, she left the University with a balanced budget and a $10 million rainy day fund. Consequently, Dr. Yancy left a highly qualified faculty (76% terminal degrees; 72% doctorates) and applications to the university increased by 400% during her tenure. Under her watch, a new technology center, a library, and a track/stadium/academic complex were constructed. In 1996, the university was awarded the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant. JCSU is the only HBCU that has received this grant. In addition, JSCU was the first HBCU to become an IBM “Thinkpad” University. In 2001, Yahoo Internet Life Magazine named the University one of the top 50 most wired small colleges in the nation.

Dr. Yancy has earned the respect of the higher education community throughout her career. She served as a professor of History, Technology and Society and in the School of Management at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta) from 1972 to 1994. At Georgia Tech, she was the first African-American to be promoted and tenured as a full professor. Previously, she taught at several institutions including Albany State University, Hampton University, Evanston Township High School and Barat College, where she was the director of the Afro-American Studies Program. Dr. Yancy was the first American to lecture at the Academy of Public Administration and Social Studies of the Small Hural in Ulan Bator, Mongolia in 1991.

In scholarship, as well as in leadership, Dr. Yancy has excelled. She has published over forty articles and labor arbitration cases in academic journals. She has served on many boards including, the Board of Directors of Bank America of the Carolinas; Charlotte Chamber of Commerce; National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities; Council of Independent Colleges ;and the Charlotte Urban League to name a few.  Currently, she serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of Morehouse College, Communities in School, Atlanta, and an Individual Member of the United Negro College Fund. She has received numerous awards and accolades. In 2002 she was inducted into the most prestigious honor society in the nation, the Delta of Georgia Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and in February 2011 she was recognized by Dominion in the “Strong Men and Women: Excellence in Leadership” series, she was given the Honorary Alumni Award by the Georgia Tech Alumni Association in 2011 and in 2013 she was the recipient of the Dr. Dorothy I. Height Leadership Award from the International Salute to the Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., Washington, DC (IAMMM).  In 2013, the Board of Trustees at Shaw University named the research building the Dorothy Cowser Yancy Building and in 2015, the Board of Trustees at Johnson C. Smith University named the Technology Building the Dorothy Cowser Yancy Hall.  She is also the Past Chair of The Links, Incorporated HBCU Initiative 2010-2014. On December 5, 2013 she was inducted into the Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine’s Hall of Fame in Education and on July 3, 2014 she was the recipient of the Co-Founders Links Award at the 39th Links Assembly. On March 28, 2015, the Governor of North Carolina conferred upon her The Order of the Long Leaf Pine. In June, 2015 she was recognized as a Pioneer in Higher Education by the City of Atlanta. Recently, 2017 she was appointed to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Committee on Closing the Equity Gap.