Ghanaian Professor wins MLK Distinguished Service Award

Dr. Anthony Aidoo, professor of mathematics and computer science at Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic, Connecticut (USA), was one of three men named recipients of the University’s Dr. Martin Luther King Distinguished Service Award. Eastern presented the award to the honorees during a ceremony and reception on February 25 in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Conference Room of the University’s J. Eugene Smith Library.

The awards recognise members of the campus and community-at-large whose actions demonstrate distinguished service in promoting the ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to further the goals of diversity and social equity. The University presented three awards presented, one each to a member of the faculty or staff; a student; and a community member. Hales won in the community category.

“An honour in and of itself, you were nominated by members of our University community,” wrote Ken Bedini, Eastern’s vice president for student affairs, in a congratulatory letter to the award winners. “As you would imagine, the selection committee received several nominations and selecting one recipient is never an easy task. I am extremely thrilled to notify you that you have, indeed, been selected to receive this prestigious award. Your work in the community clearly demonstrates the ideals of Dr. King.”

Aidoo is a distinguished mathematician whose exemplary service to the University, the wider community, especially to people of color, locally and abroad, is well known. Aidoo has served on Eastern’s Promotion and Tenure Committee and Faculty Development Committee. “His service there has had a significant impact on the student population who derived rich benefits from being taught by highly qualified faculty of color. Professor Aidoo was personally responsible for bringing two Ghanaian Ph.D. students in Mathematics, who taught that subject area at Eastern. This added great diversity on campus from which our students benefitted immensely.”

Aidoo also serves as a faculty advisor for the African Club on campus, the 180 Christian Fellowship, and is a member of the Campus Ministry Board, all helping to promote cultural tolerance at Eastern. In addition, her has made sterling contribution as a STEP/CAP (Summer Transition Enrichment programme/Collegiate Admission Program, interviewer and as a member of the General Education Programme Committee working group on information literacy concerning the method of assessment literate students at Eastern.

Regarding STEP/CAP, Susan Heyward, director of Eastern’s Advising Center, said, “For several years, Professor Aidoo has served as a math instructor and free math tutorial services to many of the programme participants. He is dedicated to using mathematical expertise to find solutions for health related issue; providing direct support to young people struggling with math concepts; serving as a mentor and role model to many college students.”

Professor Aidoo derives great satisfaction form his volunteer service as an instructor in the not-for-profit Neighborhood Renovation and Training Program (NRTP), which operates in Windham and New London. The NRTP assist low-income homeowners repair their homes at low or no cost, depending on their need. It trains unemployed youth in construction skills, and high school dropouts to obtain their General Education Development certificate. He has worked with Eastern’s administration to secure a room on campus to help prepare minority disadvantage high school dropouts to write their GED examination.

Aidoo does not limit his activities to the University community. In his attempts to improve equity in education and development in Ghana, he collects and donates books to develop libraries in Datano. He also serves as an advisor to the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Biriwa, Ghana.

Aidoo’s research addresses social justice issues and its impact on people globally. A couple publications include “”Mathematical Models of Hepatitis B in the Bosomtwe District of Ashanti Region in Ghana,” and “Applied Mathematical Sciences: A Note on the Spread of Infectious Diseases in a Large Susceptible Population.” One article Aidoo published, “Effect of Channel Geometry on the Electrostatic Potential in Acetylcholine Channels,” was selected as one of the” Top Ten Articles” of all time published in the same domain by BioMedLib. These activities and scholarship vividly demonstrate Professor Aidoo’s commitment to the cause of equity and justice.

Dr. Siobhan Carter-David, professor of history at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, CT, delivered the keynote address, urging young people to not let their voices be silenced. Citing an old saying, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism,” Carter-David encouraged young people to learn about and continue the legacy of protest and activism in America, to make their own history and make their voices heard against daily injustices across the nation. “Even if people consider you delusional or dangerous. I hope you remember your place on the roster of those Americans who use their voices to leverage for a better future. I ask you to own the legacy of voicing protests in this country…even if the legacy is shared by those who you believe would have despised you. Your cause is worthy and filled with possibility if only you choose to speak.”

Rhona Free, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Eastern, citing Eastern’s long history of minority access to higher education, agreed: “Eastern has always been at the forefront of promoting “inclusive excellence” and diversity. The first African American student graduated from Eastern in 1908, over 100 years ago and 50 years before the Little Rock 9 integrated their city high school. Eastern hired its first African American faculty member in 1948, ten years before the Little Rock 9. Eastern hired the first African American college president in New England when David Carter was appointed to that position in 1988. Eastern hired the first Latina college president in New England when Elsa Nunez was appointed to that position in 2006. And, Eastern has the highest percent of non-white faculty of any college or university in Connecticut.”

“We can and will continue to focus on inclusive excellence, ensuring equal access and promoting equal success. The recipients of the awards to be given today—Dr. Anthony Aidoo, Jonah Cragget, and Reginald Hales—and our keynote speaker, Dr. Siobhan Carter-David, in their work and commitment to equality demonstrate how in many ways we can all promote this and other ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Free.

W. Reggie Hales, publisher of the Hartford-based African American Newspaper Inquiring News and CEO of the Hartford Enterprise Zone Business Association (H.E.Z.B.A.), and Jonah Craggett, and Eastern student were also presented with the award.

For more than four decades, the Hales family-owned newspaper has been especially vigilant in telling the story of Eastern, its growth, academic excellence, community service, and its diverse students, faculty and staff.

Craggett has been effective in helping build a foundation for a better understanding of under-represented and marginalized communities for his residents. Craggett said, “I dedicate this award to my late brother, Jacob Craggett. Everything I do, I do for him, and for young children of color everywhere. Not only do your lives matter, but also they are worth so much than you can even comprehend.f

Source: Dwight Bachman

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