University honors first female African-American graduates

Cleaster Whitehurst-Mims and the late Alice Campbell receive recognition | February 28, 2008

Ladies with Emphasis on Achievement & Distinction (LEAD) are honoring the first two African-American female graduates of the University—Cleaster Whitehurst-Mims and the late Alice Campbell—on Saturday, March 1, from 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. in the Conaton Boardroom. LEAD is also honoring an outstanding female student from Xavier at the celebration. Admission is free but reservations must be made by Feb. 25 by calling 513-745-3181.

Raised on a peanut farm in Enterprise, Ala., Whitehurst-Mims put herself through school for a bachelor's degree in communication and English and a master's degree in education. She started the Marva Collins Preparatory School of Cincinnati, modeled after the teaching methods and techniques of the eponymous Chicago educator. The school provides an education alternative for children others have given up on teaching, says Mims. She also taught three days a week at Xavier. She was honored in 2000 with the Smith Family Foundation “The Secret of Living is Giving” award for her selfless service to youth in Greater Cincinnati. In 1990, Mims was one of 19 to receive the nation's highest honor for volunteer service—the President's Service Awards.

Campbell received her master’s degree in education from Xavier in 1969 and was a dedicated long-time teacher at McKinley Elementary in the East End of Cincinnati. She died in 2003 at the age of 65. Her late husband, Robert, also a teacher, was at Hughes High School in Clifton.

In addition to honoring the astounding achievements of Whitehurst-Mims and Campbell, LEAD is also awarding a deserving African-American female who embodies the same excellence in service, leadership and purpose. The nominees’ commitment to LEAD, campus involvement, academic accomplishments and service endeavors are taken into account.

“This program illustrates LEAD’s dedication to empowering African–American women through knowledge of our history, knowledge of self, and the commitment to engaging and enriching programming,” says Morgan Miller of LEAD. “It is true that you cannot know where you are going until you know where you have been. Knowing the impact that these women had on our campus will undoubtedly enrich our member’s experience as distinctive leaders of the student body.”