James King Jr. Institute for Student and Faculty Engagement
Throughout his career, Dr. James King, Jr. was actively engaged in increasing access to STEM education and research at Morehouse, Caltech, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. At our 2017 Opening Convocation, the College introduced the James King, Jr. Institute for Student and Faculty Engagement which will provide a broad range of opportunities for more focused engagement between students and science and mathematics faculty. In tribute to Dr. King’s legacy we designed two signature programs—a campus-wide peer leadership opportunity called Communicating TEAMs and the James King, Jr. Fellowships for STEM faculty. The institute also funds student scholarships and a visiting professorship in the Department of Mathematics. We are grateful to the King family for allowing us to honor the life and work of Dr. James King, Jr. and Jim and Marilyn Simons for their financial support.
Faculty Fellowship Program
Established in 2017, the James King, Jr. Faculty Fellows Program identifies and recognizes faculty that are highly engaged in activities that support the academic development of our students beyond the classroom. This fellowship program provides funding and opportunities for Morehouse College science and mathematics faculty to ramp up their activities in mentoring students and/or involving undergraduates in research or special projects.
The goal of the Faculty Fellows program is to grow the culture of extraordinary engagement with our students and to increase the number of faculty actively participating in such engagement. Awards will typically range from $10,000 to $25,000 per year and recipients must commit to at least 9 months of engagement. Assistant Professor Jeffrey Handy in the Department of Biology was selected in 2017 as the inaugural James King Jr. Faculty Fellow. In 2018, two new King Fellows were selected: Wallace Derricotte, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Shelby Wilson, Assistant Professor of Mathematics.
James King, Jr. Visiting Professorship for Mathematics Teaching
In 2017, the James King, Jr. Institute funded a Visiting Professorship for Mathematics Teaching to implement a new initiative at the College called Communicating TEAMs. After a nationwide search, Dr. Nathan N. Alexander joined the Institute in August 2017, coming to us from the University of San Francisco.
Along with designing and piloting Communicating TEAMs, in his first year at Morehouse, Dr. Alexander presented his research at several national conferences and took three students to the Black Male Educators Convening in Philadelphia. He also served on the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation Interview Board and participated in the Data for Black Lives Conference, the 7th International Conference for Social Justice in Education, the Creating Balance in an Unjust World: Social Justice in Mathematics Conference, the Dana Center Undergraduate Mathematics Equity Convening, and the AAAS/NSF/Noyce STEM Summit. We look forward to more outstanding contributions from Dr. Alexander in his second year—contributions to Morehouse and the mathematics community at large.
Communicating by Thinking Effectively in and About Mathematics
More than ever before, vast numbers of careers involve working collaboratively in teams. Communicating effectively within a team and on behalf of a team is critical to moving up the ladder. The importance of communication skills in the workplace cannot be understated and employers see this skill as an essential need when hiring graduates.
Communicating TEAMs is a campus-wide leadership opportunity for Morehouse students from every major across the College. TEAM leaders work collaboratively to generate innovative tools for communicating mathematical ideas, and they translate these ideas into written, visual, verbal, & nonverbal forms. In doing so, leaders develop important professional skills and expand mathematical literacy across Morehouse’s campus. TEAMs help prepare student leaders for a wide variety of professional careers and graduate study.
Communicating TEAMs is directed by Nathan Alexander, James King, Jr. Visiting Professor of Mathematics Teaching.
James King Jr.
Dr. James King, Jr. ('53) was a chemistry major and mathematics minor at Morehouse that studied under Henry C. McBay. He completed his Ph.D. in chemical physics at Caltech in 1958, was the first black Ph.D. hired at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and after retiring from JPL in 1993, he fulfilled a promise that he made to Benjamin E. Mays to return to Morehouse to teach and mentor students. In 1996, King received the College's Candle in Science and Technology Award. After hearing the news that a new STEM program at Morehouse would be named to honor Jim King, his good friend William D. Hutchinson ('55) said, "Over the years, Jim and I would often reflect on the impact that Morehouse had on what we became over the years. At Morehouse, we were immersed in an environment that optimized our chances for future success; this environment was shared by all our contemporaries. In the fifties Morehouse was able to find young men, challenge them to succeed and give us the support that we might need to overcome the obstacles that we would face in life. We were also imbued with a desire to help others to succeed by using our maturity and experience to mentor those coming behind us."