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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Columbia, SC-November 29, 2007-Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and executive officer of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), will be the featured speaker at Benedict College's 138th Commencement Convocation at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 8, 2007, in the Benjamin Mays Human Resources Center Arena. Dr. Lomax also will receive an honorary doctorate of human letters degree during the commencement ceremonies.

Dr. Lomax heads the nation's largest and most successful minority higher education assistance organization.  Through its headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, and 24 field offices across the country, UNCF annually provides operating and program funds to its 39 member private historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and their 60,000 students.  In addition, it manages more than 400 scholarship programs that support nearly 10,000 students at over 900 of the nation's colleges and universities.  In the course of its 62-year history, UNCF has raised and distributed over $2.5 billion and has assisted over 300,000 students in earning undergraduate degrees.  In 1999, UNCF received over $1 billion, the largest private gift to American higher education, from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to administer the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, which provides outstanding minority students with an opportunity to complete their undergraduate and graduate college educations. 

Dr. Lomax joined UNCF after serving in a series of high-level academic and political positions.  Immediately before joining UNCF, he served seven years as president of Dillard University in New Orleans. 

Dr. Lomax went to Dillard after thirty years in Atlanta, where he pursued simultaneous full-time careers as a university professor and public servant.  He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Atlanta's Morehouse College and, after receiving his M.A. degree from Columbia University and his Ph.D. in American and African American literature from Emory University, taught literature at Morehouse and Spelman Colleges and the University of Georgia.

At the same time, he became a prominent figure in Atlanta government and politics.  He began his public service as an assistant to Maynard Jackson, Atlanta's first African American mayor, and went on to serve as the first head of Atlanta's Bureau of Cultural Affairs.  In 1978, he was elected to the Fulton County Board of Commissioners.  Two years later, he became the Board's chairman, the first African American ever to hold that position and served in that position for twelve years.

Dr. Lomax is a trustee of Emory University, a member of the founding Council of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture, and a member of the Boards of Directors of Teach for America, The KIPP Foundation, The Carter Center, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Studio Museum in Harlem, The Bill T. Jones Dance Company and the National Black Arts Festival, of which he was founding chair.  President George W. Bush appointed him to the President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  He has also received numerous awards including The Laurel Crowned Circle Award from Omicron Delta Kappa (2006), the distinguished Emory Medal, the Candle in the Dark award from Morehouse College and several honorary degrees.

Dr. Lomax and his wife, Cheryl Ferguson Lomax, have three daughters, Michele, Rachel, and Deignan.

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Source: Office of Communications and Marketing