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The Legacy of Ruth Harris, Educational Pioneer : Dr. Vanessa Garry

February 20 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Join us for a compelling exploration of the groundbreaking achievements of Dr. Ruth Harris, the first African American female president of Harris-Stowe State University. Featuring Vanessa Garry, associate professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, this event delves into the inspiring journey of Dr. Harris during the Jim Crow era.

In 1940, St. Louis Public Schools named Dr. Ruth Harris, the first African American female President of the Harris-Stowe State University, previously named Stowe Teachers College. During the Jim Crow era, Harris joined a small cadre of African American females who were harbingers for future academy administrators. These women, who supported and advocated for their faculty paved the way for their peers who are currently leading or teaching at colleges and universities. Situated in Black feminist thought, race uplift, and female mentoring model, this educational biographical narrative examined Harris’ support of faculty as she guided the development of Stowe. In her book, Stowe Teachers College and Her Predecessors, Harris referred to the collaborative work performed by her and her staff to gain accreditation as one of her guiding principles. Another principle, the university should study itself, helped the faculty gain Stowe’s accreditation. This representation of Harris’ collaboration with her colleagues revealed her willingness to support her faculty. Vestiges of Black feminist theory and race uplift in the form of mentoring exist today as African American women help junior faculty navigate tenure in higher education.

Vanessa Garry is an associate professor in the College of Education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She currently instructs graduate students in the areas of leadership for equity and school administration. Dr. Garry’s research centers on narratives of Black educators and histories of urban schools. She published articles in Vitae Scholasticae and the Journal of Urban Society. Dr. Garry is currently co-editing a book on Black high schools in the United States. She and her collaborator have a chapter in the forthcoming book, Schooling the Movement: The Activism of Southern Black Educators from Reconstruction through the Civil Rights Era.


Lincoln University
812 East Dunklin St., Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall, Room 106
Jefferson City, 65201
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