March 4, 2020

“Hidden Figures” 

While certainly all of you reading this message recognize that we recently concluded Black History Month when February ended, I doubt that there would be unanimity with the recognition of this month of March as Women’s History Month.  The latter celebratory month evolved in a similar fashion to its more popular cousin but first evolving from a day, then to a week, then to a month-long celebration as early as 1986.  And while not enough people celebrate Black History Month, relatively speaking even fewer people pay attention to Women’s History Month.  But what about the convergence of the two?  What does a celebration of black women look like?

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The award-winning biopic, “Hidden Figures” was aptly titled as all too often, black women, even exceptional black women are “hidden figures” that are often overlooked or seemingly invisible. Just last week, Katherine Johnson one of the “figures” featured in the film, died at the ripe age of 101.  Sadly, her herculean mathematical efforts (along with those of several other African American female colleagues) to help the launch the first manned US spacecrafts was not fully celebrated until so much later in her life.  There are countless “Katherine Johnsons” who remain “hidden” and the confluence of these two months seems like the ideal time to bring these “figures” out of the shadows. 


So, let us celebrate the many black women who need to be recognized.  Not just Rosa, Harriet, Madam CJ, and Oprah, but let’s celebrate famous sheroes like Misty, Meghan, Shonda, Simone, and others.  And let’s also celebrate less famous African American sheroes like our mothers, sisters, aunts, and wives; like our teachers, doctors, nurses, and lawyers; like our engineers, pharmacists, preachers, and elected officials; and like all great black women who no longer shall be known as “hidden figures”. 

Continue to do good work.



  • We have a fabulous conference planned for you, March 18th - 21st  in Charleston, SC.  In just over two weeks we will convene our annual AABHE Conference with the theme: Pathways to Success in Higher Education: Perfect Vision in 2020. If you are not registered, time is running out, but we still have room for you.

  • At this writing, we are cognizant of the fact that there may be concerns about travel and the Novel Coronavirus.  The AABHE Board and Executive Board have met and following consultation with health officials and emergency management personnel, our conference is proceeding as planned.  Every precaution has been taken to provide a safe and healthy environment for all attendees.  We continue to monitor the CDC and other sources.  Currently we are unaware of any campus travel bans for domestic travel and to date the CDC has not issued any guidance, or even precautions, about limiting travel within the United States or limiting public gatherings anywhere in the US.  As such, it’s on to historic Charleston!  Hope to see you in a couple of weeks.

“It’s all about the students”,

Dereck J. Rovaris, Sr
Dr. Dereck J. Rovaris, Sr.
President, AABHE