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Dolores E. Cross

Celebrated educator and university administrator Dolores Cross raised the bar of institutional performance as the first female president of both Morris Brown College in Atlanta and Chicago State University. Born to Ozie and John Tucker on August 29, 1938, in Newark, New Jersey, Dr. Cross's early education took place in Newark's public school system. After receiving her B.S. in education from Seton Hall University in 1963, Dr. Cross furthered her education by gaining her M.S. in education from Hofstra University and later her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Throughout her career, Dr. Cross has been consistent in her commitment to educational excellence. While earning her B.S. as a young mother, she overcame negative societal attitudes about race and gender. After completing her Ph.D. in 1971, Cross went on to make a critical impact in institutions of higher education. She has since served as an associate professor of education at Claremont University in California, vice chancellor for student affairs and special programs at City University of New York, president of the New York State Services Corporation, and as president of Morris Brown College and Chicago State University. In addition to her earned degrees, she has received more than eight honorary degrees from various universities and has served on numerous national and international associations and boards, including the American Council on Education and the Institute for International Education.

Ending her tenure at Morris Brown in the summer of 2002, Dr. Cross continued her commitment to education by acting as chairperson of the American Association of Higher Education. She chronicled her life story in a memoir entitled, Breaking Through the Wall: A Marathoner's Story published by Third World Press. Dr. Cross had two adult children, Jane Cross and Thomas Cross, Jr.

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William McKinley Elementary School

William McKinley Junior High School

Central High School

Seton Hall University

Hofstra University

University of Michigan

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New Jersey

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Rio Caliente, Mexico

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Go the distance.

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College president and education professor Dolores E. Cross (1938 - ) served as president of both Morris Brown College and Chicago State University. She chronicled her life story in a memoir entitled, 'Breaking Through the Wall: A Marathoner's Story,' published by Third World Press.


Northwestern University

Claremont Graduate School

City University of New York

New York State Services Corporation

University of Minnesota

Chicago State University

General Electric Company - Fairfield, Connecticut

Morris Brown College

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<a href="">Tape: 1 Slating of Dolores Cross interview</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Dolores Cross's favorites</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Dolores Cross details her parents' backgrounds</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Dolores Cross recalls painful memories from her childhood</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Dolores Cross remembers smells from her childhood</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Dolores Cross discusses family life after her parents separated</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Dolores Cross describes her childhood neighborhood of Newark, New Jersey</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Dolores Cross talks about her childhood personality</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Dolores Cross recounts her interactions with her father's family</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Dolores Cross details her enthusiasm for reading</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Dolores Cross talks about her sibling rivalry with her sister</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Dolores Cross discusses the personality traits she inherited from her parents</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Dolores Cross talks about her problem with stuttering</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Dolores Cross recalls her aspirations during and after high school</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Dolores Cross talks about the family and friends who influenced her</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Dolores Cross discusses juggling her education, marriage and family in the 1960s</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Dolores Cross talks about the difficulty of raising her family while attending college</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Dolores Cross details her husband's professional endeavors</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Dolores Cross talks about her civil rights activism and her husband's career track in the 1960s</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Dolores Cross details more of her civil rights activism in the 1960s</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Dolores Cross discusses the excitement of the 1960s</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Dolores Cross discusses her family life in the 1960s</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Dolores Cross details her academic career moves and its effects on the family</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Dolores Cross talks about her husband's career difficulties and her mentor at the University of Michigan</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Dolores Cross recounts her career move to Northwestern University</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Dolores Cross discusses her studies in multiculturalism while teaching at Northwestern University</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Dolores Cross talks about adjusting to the environment at Northwestern University</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Dolores Cross details her duties at Claremont Graduate School and subsequent appointment at CUNY</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Dolores Cross recalls her career as Vice Chancellor at the City University of New York</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Dolores Cross details her accomplishments at the City University of New York</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Dolores Cross explains how she changed the image of Chicago State University as president</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Dolores Cross recalls connecting with students while president of Chicago State University</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Dolores Cross discusses her marathon running</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Dolores Cross talks about her departure from Chicago State University due to her mother's death</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Dolores Cross states her concerns about the education of African Americans</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Dolores Cross comments on the survival of black educational institutions, part 1</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Dolores Cross comments on the survival of black educational institutions, Part 2</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Dolores Cross talks about her belief in the public school system</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Dolores Cross discusses multiculturalism within today's society</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Dolores Cross talks about the future of African American history</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Dolores Cross considers her legacy and how she would like to be remembered</a>







Dolores Cross details her duties at Claremont Graduate School and subsequent appointment at CUNY
Dolores Cross details her accomplishments at the City University of New York
Now Claremont [Graduate School, later Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California], you still continued some of your work that you had started at Northwestern [University, Evanston, Illinois]. Right?$$(Simultaneously) Right. I finished the book there. And there again I was the first African American woman on the faculty there. And had responsibilities that were similar. But now I was an Associate Professor. So my rank changed from assistant to associate. I was their director of their graduate teacher education program. And a new credentialing requirement was coming down. So I had to initiate that. I also advised doctoral students, had the teaching responsibility and had program development responsibilities. What was unique there, I developed a joint doctoral program between Claremont Graduate School and San Diego State [University, San Diego, California], which became the first joint doctoral program between a private and a public university in the state of California. So developing programs, the teacher education program, teaching, whatnot. And was there for four years. And then I got a postdoctoral experience in Washington D.C. and began to think more about administration. Because by then my marriage [to Tom Cross, Sr.] was falling apart. And I have to worry about in a few years my kids [Tom, Jr. and Jane Cross] would be going off to school. And how would I support them and their college activities? So at that time I was making like $19,000 a year as an associate professor at Claremont Graduate School. And I heard about the job as Vice Chancellor in City University of New York. And I had been encouraged after the post-doctorate to get into administration. So it was--a real shift came in my life then in terms of moving out. Deciding that I'm going to take the leave and go for the goal. So I applied for the job of Vice Chancellor at City University of New York [CUNY] and got the job. I think there were close to 400 applicants. And moved into a very political situation. I said it in the book ['Breaking Through the Wall: A Marathoner's Story'] there. Made the 'New York Times' newspaper, the front page, that the Black Caucus legislators were gonna sever their ties with the chancellor over my appointment. Because it was "Californian gets the job." And many of them did not realize that I was from the East Coast. So I had to come back to the situation and some how make peace with the black, you know, legislators. And then come in again as the first. I was the first African American to be a Vice Chancellor. African American woman to be a Vice Chancellor at the City University of New York. That was in '78 [1978], first woman. But I'm over admissions for the eighteen colleges, financial aid, special programs for the entire university system.$To make sure that their voices were heard and to recognize the fact that people had, you know, different voices. So when I took the job as Vice Chancellor of CUNY [City University of New York], I came in at a time when they were ending open admissions. So, you know, what I wanted to do is to use the admissions process and the financial aid process to make sure that people got an opportunity to go to school. And I went to CUNY because CUNY had as its mission to help students who were under-served. And then at--when I went--took the job in New York, increasingly financing of education was a concern. So the first thing I did is I took a statewide survey, finding out how students were financing their education. And found out that despite everything the government was saying about there being enough financial aid to meet the cost of an education, that there was an unmet need. And recognizing there was this unmet need looking to promote policies that would be responsive to this. Policies that led to part-time tuition assistance and policies that led to more financial aid for independent students. So continuing to be an advocate for people with different points of views to develop a perspective. And to make sure that cost was not a barrier to their going to school. So for eight years doing that. I had a TV show at the time, 'Paying for College'. I began to produce my own show with the help of a media person in which I would interview people and talk about access issues. And then also Governor [Mario] Cuomo saw to it that I had a group of twenty-one college presidents to work with. And I began to give them some of the information. So that they could go to Washington and be a force as then-President [Ronald] Reagan was threatening cutbacks in student financial aid.$$What are you proud of that you accomplished during that eight year period? Or even attempt--you know. What are you proud of there?$$The proudest thing, you know, promoting new policies. There were three pieces of legislation that I--that my research held. One was to make sure that there was tuition assistance for part-time students. That had not occurred before. The second was that independent students--these are students with young children--got more financial aid. And the third was the Hope Scholarship. What the Hope Scholarship said is that if you stay in school and get good grades, then what the state would give you is $7,000 toward going to a private college, or cover the cost of your going to the public. So I was able to use that information, you know, the power of that information to promote legislation so that people could have a chance. And I was also able to show that poor people were struggling with the cost of education.$$And that was affecting their access.$$Yeah.