INSTITUTE, W.Va. (AP) — Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician whose calculations helped astronauts return to Earth, is being honored at her alma mater West Virginia State University with a bronze statue and a scholarship in her name. West Virginia State says a dedication ceremony is planned for Aug. 25, the day before Johnson’s 100th birthday.
Long before the digital era, Johnson worked as a human “computer” at the agency that became NASA, working in relative obscurity as an African-American woman. Her contributions were later recognized in the “Hidden Figures” movie, with actress Taraji P. Henson playing her role.
West Virginia State hopes to endow the scholarship at $100,000, awarding money to students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math, targeting people who are underrepresented in those fields.
Edouard E. Plummer works out of a room inside a Harlem public school that would be spacious — if it were a storage closet. Still, he has found a way to pack its shelves and cover its walls with a growing testament to a half-century of achievements that rival those of headmasters at the swankiest prep schools.
He would know; he’s friends with a lot of them. Since 1964, he has taken promising poor and minority children and, in one intense year, given them the academic and social tools to get into — and thrive at — the nation’s leading schools and beyond.
“This one went to Lawrenceville, then Yale,” Mr. Plummer said, pointing a worn yardstick to old news clippings and fliers on the wall. “This one, Peddie. Hotchkiss, St. Paul’s. This one went to Harvard undergrad and Harvard Law. This one’s a doctor. He ran for Congress.”
His smile betrayed his satisfaction. His words, however, underscored that despite getting more than 500 young people into 108 different boarding and preparatory schools though the Wadleigh Scholars Program, more needed to be done.
When he first set out on his mission, memories of segregation were fresh in his mind. He had attended West Virginia State University and, in 1949, applied to the Foreign Service. Despite having done well in history, German and biology, he was rejected. “They said, ‘Thank you, but we have nothing to offer you,’ ” he recalled. “You know why they did that. It was the color of my skin.”
In a press release, Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens has announced that Roslyn Clark Artis will become its interim president on July 15. After a career in law, in 2003 Artis joined the staff at Mountain State University in Parkersburg, West Virginia, as senior academic officer for distance education. She later served as provost for distance education, vice president for advancement, president of the Mountain State University Foundation, and chief academic officer of the university.
Artis is a graduate of West Virginia State University and the West Virginia University School of Law. She holds an educational doctorate from Vanderbilt University.