Interview: Donald Brown (2003)
Interviewee: Donald Brown
Interviewer: Clarence G. Williams
Date: February 6, 2003
About the Interviewee
Donald Brown had been director of the Office of AHANA [African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native-American] Student Programs at Boston College since 1978 at the time of this interview. He began his career in higher education as director of Upward Bound at University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Brown later served as director of the Boston Region of the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services; president of Christian Soldiers, Inc.; co-director of Bridging Bridges, a program that brings together several organizations serving African-American men in the Boston area.
At Boston College, Brown was also credited with initiating the following programs: the Options Through Education Transitional Summer Program (OTE), the Thea Bowman Scholars Program, and the Benjamin Elijah Mays Mentoring Program, among others. He was instrumental in the development of many university-wide initiatives including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee and the Affiliates Program.
The Dr. Donald Brown Award was established in his honor by the Office of AHANA Student Programs (now the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center) at Boston College. The annual Award honors "a senior who throughout his/her undergraduate career has made extraordinary contributions to the greater Boston College campus, particularly with the AHANA community, in the areas of leadership, service, and academic development."
Bridge Leadership Program
The Bridge Leadership Program was developed by Clarence G. Williams at MIT.
This program provides perspectives and developments of new insights based on the concept “Bridge Leadership” that emerged in Technology and the Dream: Reflections on the Black Experience at MIT, 1941-1999 (MIT Press, 2001). The concept developed from the investigator’s view as an important element in the educational experiences of black students and faculty members at MIT. It defined a small core of mostly non-black faculty and administrators who worked diligently, along with the limited number of underrepresented faculty and students, to bridge divisions at the university based on race. While this book focused on the black experience, a new phase of the “bridge leadership” concept was broadened over the past nine years to include not only race but culture and ethnicity as well. The project has developed through interaction beyond MIT with over sixty former and current presidents, senior faculty and administrators at 17 major universities and educational institutions. What has surfaced from interviews and fact findings from these institutions (see lists of “bridge leaders” and “bridge leader targets”) is a core of identifiable characteristics associated with “bridge leader” professionals, both faculty and administrators who work to transform their campuses into a more welcoming, nurturing environment for minorities and other individuals from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.