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New York City
December 2002

Dr. Rae Alexander-Minter, Vice Pres., Metropolitan College
By Sybil Maimin

Dr. Rae Alexander-Minter gets things done! Smart, enthusiastic, and blessed with advantage, she is determined that opportunities be given to others so that they may have a chance to experience the “precious possibilities of life.” Currently vice president for governmental and public affairs at Metropolitan College of New York (formerly Audrey Cohen College), where she is making a difference by burnishing the school’s image and gaining it recognition and support in Washington, Albany, and New York City, she has also been a productive and innovative director of the Paul Robeson Cultural Center at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and director of public programs and education at The New-York Historical Society. Alexander-Minter continues the traditions of an illustrious family. Her father was one of the first African-American graduates of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and one of the early black graduates of Harvard Law School; her mother was the first black to receive a Ph.D. in economics in the United States and the first woman of her race to pass the bar in Pennsylvania and practice. She is the grandniece of Henry Ossawa Tanner, a renowned artist and student of Thomas Eakins, whose painting, once owned by her mother, is now on the wall of the Green Room of the White House—the first African-American to be so honored. Her husband, Dr. Thomas K. Minter, was assistant secretary of education in the first Department of Education in Washington and was deputy chancellor of the New York City Public Schools.

Dr. Alexander-Minter has been particularly active in promoting the contributions of African-Americans to the nation’s culture and history. Her doctoral dissertation in anthropology and education at the University of Pennsylvania involved a research study of a 19th-century African-American community in northeast Philadelphia, which utilized public school students as “junior historians.” The study, entitled “Boundary Living,” found that the residents of this black enclave largely determined their self-identity and life choices through boundaries and “knowing one’s place.” At Rutgers, she directed an ambitious Paul Robeson Centennial Project that brought the life of the legendary actor, singer, and political activist to more than one million people across the nation. She was instrumental in developing a curriculum on Robeson that was adopted by several public schools. Her work with the New-York Historical Society included initiating outreach to public schools and developing community programs that stressed the city’s cultural diversity. She has contributed to scholarly research and literature about African-American culture and education and is particularly concerned about the importance of role models and the need to increase the number of educated black males.

Metropolitan College of New York, an accredited, non-traditional urban school with sites in Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, and Queens, is benefiting from Dr. Alexander-Minter’s expertise, charm, and connections. She has further diversified the board by drawing in two young African-American women and has developed advisory councils with key people for each borough. A unique Welfare to Careers program (l80 students at Metropolitan), in conjunction with Medgar Evers College (CUNY) and Pace University, is attracting attention and funding; Alexander-Minter was key in obtaining a significant grant from Congress. Alexander-Minter is now working to broaden the College’s outreach to the Southern African country of Malawi, to seek funds to train the country’s fieldworkers in the Metropolitan College’s landmark Human Services curriculum. She is working closely with Malawi’s Ambassador to the United Nations, the U.S. Agency for International Development and administrators in Malawi.

The college offers a chance for a better life and connects learning with work (students must have full-time jobs or internships while studying full-time, attending classes scheduled to complement their hectic lives). The average age of the 1,700 students is 32, and 70 percent are people of color. Women comprise 80 percent of the student body and many are single parents. Students receive a B.A. in 2 years, 8 months, or an M.A. in 1 year, by attending three semesters annually and utilizing the workplace as a classroom. Degrees can be earned in business, human services, public administration, management, and media. A masters in education is being established and a curriculum for a degree in health care is being developed. Dr. Alexander-Minter would like to see the student body broadened to include more young people and males. Working hard and staying out front, she welcomes the challenge to make Metropolitan better known and to pass on her “appreciation of education and allow for a more egalitarian and equitable access to life’s opportunities.”#

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Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001.
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