Dr. Melvin Isadore Douglass took office as the 24th President of Barber-Scotia College on April 12, 2019, ushering in a new era of leadership for the college, which has the distinction of being one of the first educational institutions for African Americans built immediately following the Civil War in 1867.
Dr. Douglass’s passion to preserve the college’s rich history, and secure its place as a leading institution of higher education, runs deep. As a result, he made a request to the school’s board of trustees that his annual salary be $1. Dr. Douglass’s request was intended to ensure stakeholders that all available funds would be used for the college’s growth and development.
Dr. Douglass brings to the college more than 25 years of combined senior level administrative experience in academia, research, policy, advocacy, government service, and nonprofit sector. He, also, has many years of experience transforming schools and developing intellectual property for K-12 and higher education. His expertise lies in brand development pertaining to diversity, equity and inclusion, troubleshooting, data analysis and solution development, curricula and staff development, consumer allegiance, profit and loss oversight and developing donor relations. Dr. Douglass’s talents and experiences have allowed him to become adept at overseeing operational and fiscal responsibilities that speak to ensuring optimal organizational performance and actualizing revenue enhancements. He served as a senior research scientist at Touro College Graduate School of Education, professor of education at Brooklyn College Graduate School of Education, professor of sociology and African American studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, professor of sociology and history at the College of New Rochelle, and professor of social science at Metropolitan College of New York-Audrey Cohen School of Human Services.
Dr. Douglass is a respected William Montague Cobb Scholar. Specifically, he examines academic and mobility differences shaped by the effects of race, ethnicity, class, and gender in American society. In 2005, Dr. Douglass's study on the Famous Black Men of Harvard: An Investigation of Their Origins and Achievements, 1869-1926 was selected for presentation at a symposium held at the University of Oxford, England. His interests include African American intellectual history, which aims to understand ideas of thinkers from the past by understanding them in context. As a historian in the field of African American life and history, he has written numerous articles, which were published in Afro-Americans in New York Life and History, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Journal of the National Medical Association, the Boulé Journal, The Prince Hall Sentinel, The Crisis Magazine, and The Phylaxis Magazine. Dr. Douglass has authored an Afro-American history book entitled: Black Winners: A History of Spingarn Medalists, 1915-1983. This book was placed on the New York City Board of Education’s approved book list. His poems have appeared in the Calendar of Black Children, produced by the National Black Child Development Institute in Washington, D.C. Dr. Douglass composed two songs that celebrate African American luminaries: “Carter G. Woodson” and “Thanks, Dr. King…Thanks, Mrs. King”.
A native of Harlem, New York, he has earned his degrees from Vincennes University, Tuskegee University, Morgan State University, New York University, Columbia University and Harvard University. Dr. Douglass did post-doctoral studies at Clare College, Cambridge University, England, and the Goethe-Institut, Germany. He was also selected as a Japan Fulbright Memorial Scholar.
While attending Columbia University on a full academic scholarship, he was elected to the prestigious Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society, Golden Key International Honour Society and Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society. In 2018, he was elected to the Royal Historical Society of the United Kingdom (RHistS). The aforementioned is one of the oldest and most prestigious learned historical societies in the world.
Dr. Douglass is a member of Lebanon Lodge No. 54 of Free and Accepted Masons, Royal Eagle Chapter No. 27 Holy Royal Arch Masons, Mystic Tie Council No. 8 Royal and Select Masters, Gethsemane Commandery No.3 Knights Templar and the Long Island Consistory No. 61 Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite Masons. He was coronated an honorary 33rd degree, which is the (“last and highest”) degree given for exceptional service to Freemasonry by the Scottish Rite (PHA). Dr. Douglass is also a member of Abu-Bekr No. 91 of the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. In addition, Dr. Douglass has membership in the Phylaxis Society, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity (Boulé) Incorporated, Phi Delta Kappa Professional Fraternity, One Hundred Black Men of Long Island, National Association of Guardsmen Incorporated (Brooklyn Chapter), Comus Club of Brooklyn, Reveille Club of New York, Lions Club International and the Harvard Club of New York.
Dr. Douglass is the recipient of more than fifty awards and citations among them are: Omega Man of the Year Award, One Hundred Black Men of Long Island Man of the Year Award, Vincennes University Alumni Citation Award, State University of New York at Farmingdale Distinguished Service Award, Eastern Shore Chapter of the Links Incorporated Service Award, Journal of the National Medical Association Excellence Award, Henry M. Minton Fellow Award, the N.A.A.C.P. Black History Makers Award, Dowling College Master Teacher Award, Council of Administrators and Supervisors Outstanding Leadership in Education Award, Alpha Sigma Boulé of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity Service Award, Metropolitan College of New York Leadership Award, New York Black Publishers’ and MetroPlus Health Plan’s Men Who Mentor Award, the Jefferson Award (which was sponsored by the American Institute for Public Service and WNYW-Fox Television) and Doctor of Humane Letters degree (Honoris Causa) from Metropolitan College of New York.
Dr. Douglass is listed in Outstanding Young Men of American (1983), Who’s Who in the East (22nd and 23rd editions), Who’s Who in America (46th, 57th, 60th, 61st, and 62nd editions), Who's Who in Education (3rd, 4th, 6th, and 8th editions), Who’s Who Among Black Americans (5th and 6th editions), Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers (7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th editions), Who’s Who in the World (22nd, 23rd, 24th editions).
Finally, Dr. Douglass is an ordained Baptist minister, who strongly embraces the Black Churches’ long tradition of liberation theology and racial reconciliation that was notably embodied in the movement led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. Douglass is frequently called upon to address civic, ecumenical, educational, fraternal and professional organizations.
Want to see students
engage and pursue.
Here are a few things
all of us can do.
Help them to understand
that playing the fool
is less rewarding
than shining in school.
Help them to wake up.
You will be surprised
to see viewpoints change
and the scholar arise.
by Dr. Melvin I. Douglass