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Office of Communications and Marketing

Benedict College Alum and Professor Accepts National Role with the Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity (BranchED)

Dr. Damara Hightower Named Vice President of Provider Engagement and Partnerships

Columbia, SC – January 30, 2019 – On February 4, 2019, Dr. Damara Hightower will formally enter the national stage in educator preparation as Vice President of Provider Engagement and Partnerships with the Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity (BranchED), a service-focused advocacy and empowerment organization. BranchED is the only non-profit in the country dedicated to strengthening, growing, and amplifying the impact of educator preparation at Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).

“I am very proud of Dr. Hightower and grateful for her many contributions to Benedict College and field of education in South Carolina,” said Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis, President and CEO of Benedict College. “Her new role as an advocate for the preparation of educators at Minority Serving Institution with have a tremendous impact on schools like Benedict College. Dr. Hightower is and has always represented the BEST of BC!”

Dr. Hightower has been an educator and administrator for more than 22 years. Within one year of beginning her career as an English teacher, she was promoted to Dean of Students and went on to become an assistant principal by the age of 24. Since that time, she has progressively held leadership roles in K-16 settings to include Director of Upward Bound and Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at Benedict College, Education Associate in Educator Preparation at the South Carolina State Department of Education, Assistant Professor and Director of Curriculum and Instruction and Accreditation at Claflin University, and an Academic Administrator in the Office of the Provost as the lead for assessment of the SACSCOC QEP: USC Connect for the University of South Carolina and the four regional campuses: Lancaster, Salkehatchie, Union and Sumter.

In August of 2015, Dr. Hightower proudly returned to her alma mater, Benedict College, to serve as Dean of the School of Education and was later appointed as the Dean of Education, Health and Human Services. Highlights from her time as dean include: Restoration of National Recognition of the Elementary Education Program; Reaffirmation of CAEP/NCATE Accreditation through 2022; 2019 Advocate for African American Students Award from the Center for the Education and Equity of African American Students at the University of South Carolina for leading the transformation of the Benedict College Education curriculum to reflect the Center African History and African-American Culture through African Diaspora Literacy; 2018 and 2017 Fulbright Hays Project Scholar in Cameroon and Ghana, West Africa; 2017 Celebrating African Life: Honoring Women of Distinction Honoree, Kemetic Institute for Health and Human Development; 2017 Founding Board Member of the Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity; 2016-2017 President of the South Carolina Association for Colleges of Teacher Education; and 2016 Deans of Impact Leadership Academy Fellow. Dr. Hightower also authored two publications and served as an invited presenter and panelists at several national and state conferences.

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About BranchEd
Founded by President and CEO, Dr. Cassandra Herring, BranchED is named for Mary Elizabeth Branch who became the first woman of color to serve as President of an accredited senior college in the United States of America. She transformed Tillotson College, an HBCU in Austin, Texas (now Houston-Tillotson University) from a failing women’s junior college into a four-year undergraduate school with an “A” rating from the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in 1930.

About Benedict College
Founded in 1870, Benedict College is rapidly approaching its 150th year of providing high quality academic programs to students who desire to pursue their program of study in a diverse academic environment. While its history is laudable, Benedict’s present focus and strategic trajectory are its priority.
Benedict College is a BEST in class academic institution that offers its students transformative academic programs, in an innovative, technology enhanced, student focused, culturally sensitive learning environment. The College is committed to preparing students to enter the global marketplace with exceptional cultural and professional competencies that will enable them to contribute to the sustainability and economic growth of their communities.

For eight straight years, Benedict College has been ranked one of the top baccalaureate colleges in the nation by Washington Monthly Magazine for creating social mobility and producing cutting-edge scholarship and research. Benedict offers 24 high demand academic programs, including, Computer Science, Engineering, Cyber Security, Mass Communication, Sport Management, Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Biology and Education. Moreover, over the past ten years, sixty (60%) of BC alumni have pursued graduate or professional study.

In addition to its academic programs, Benedict College is home to a standard-setting Career Pathways Program that is strategically designed to prepare Benedict College students for success in a rapidly changing, highly competitive and technology driven workplace. The Program’s mission is to transform student scholars into focused, highly skilled critical thinkers, who are experts in their field of study and, more importantly, are intellectually adept and resilient enough to assume jobs that do not yet exist!

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