We are proud to recognize the 2021 recipients of the Alumni Award for Distinguished Postgraduate Achievement and the LaRue V. Barkwell Capstone Distinguished Service Award. The awards will be presented during Charter Day 2021: A Virtual Celebration, which will be livestreamed on Saturday, March 6 at 7 p.m. ET. 

Makola M. Abdullah

In the fields of Engineering and Leadership

Makola M. Abdullah, Ph.D., serves as the 14th president of Virginia State University (VSU). Abdullah is described as an academic administrator committed to excellence as well as an internationally renowned educator recognized for outstanding research. Prior to his appointment as president of Virginia State University, Abdullah served as provost and senior vice president for Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida; provost and vice president for academic affairs at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, Florida; and dean and director of 1890 land grant programs at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, Florida. 

In 2017, Abdullah was named the HBCU Male President of the Year by HBCU Digest. Under his leadership, in 2018, Virginia State University, was named HBCU of the Year. In addition, Abdullah is vice chair for the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Board of Directors. He serves as a member of the executive committee for the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated and the 5000 Role Models of Excellence.  

Thomas W. Mitchell

In the field of Law

Portrait of Thomas W. MitchellThomas Wilson Mitchell, J.D., LLM, is a property law scholar focused on reforming longstanding legal doctrines that deprive Black and other disadvantaged American families of their property and real estate wealth. Mitchell received a B.A. from Amherst College, a J.D. (1993) from Howard University School of Law and an LLM from the University of Wisconsin Law School, where he served as a William H. Hastie Fellow. From 2000 to 2016, Mitchell served as a professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School. He joined the faculty of Texas A&M University in 2016, where he is currently a professor in the School of Law and co-director of the Program in Real Estate and Community Development Law. Mitchell’s research has appeared in journals such as Northwestern University Law Review, Alabama Law Review, Wisconsin Law Review, Florida State University Law Review and in American Bar Association and USDA publications, among others. He has also served as an editor and contributor to the first volume of “The New Legal Realism: Translating Law-and-Society for Today’s Legal Practice” (2016). Most notably, in 2020, Thomas Mitchell was a recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. 

Mary Roach

In the field of Public Service

Portrait of Mary RoachMary Roach, PharmD, has been a long-time public servant. She was a student at the U.S. Army’s Academy of Health Sciences, after which the Army sent her to Walter Reed and to Landstuhl, Germany, in order to provide care for ambushed soldiers needing care. She assisted doctors and nurses with medication therapy and compassion, helping with bandages and lifting spirits during a mass casualty event. Her grassroots research at Ohio State University helped parents and caregivers understand proper medication dosing for infants and children, leading to a decline in the rate of overdosing of medications. The program became recognized by the drug manufacturer of Tylenol.

After helping her husband lose 89 pounds through nutrition and consulting with his doctors on medication therapy, Roach started the JJ Center, Inc., a nonprofit, faith-based organization in Ward 8, which is dedicated to eradicating health disparities and uniting the community. Roach went on to become a radio broadcasting host for Cathy Hughes’ Radio One. Today, she is helping to spearhead efforts to the reopen Ward 8 as the city battles the COVID-19 pandemic. Roach has plans to attend law school in 2021 to enhance her patient care and advocacy efforts.   

Clifford L. Muse, Jr., Ph.D.

LaRue V. Barkwell Capstone Distinguished Service Award

Portrait of Clifford L. MuseClifford L. Muse, Jr., Ph.D. is an African-American historian and archivist. He serves as Howard University's archivist and associate director at the Moorland–Spingarn Research Center. He is best known for his research and writings on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Frederick Douglass and his involvement in diversity initiatives aimed at improving the archivist profession. 

Since joining the Howard family in 1981, Muse has made impressive changes to the management of the University’s priceless archives and invaluable historical artifacts.  Under his careful oversight, the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center has maintained its position as one of the world’s preeminent repositories documenting the history and culture of people of African descent in Africa, the Americas, and other parts of the world. Muse has served as an adjunct professor, sharing his knowledge of history and insights with countless students over the years.  Prior to joining Howard, Muse was an archivist in the Office of the Presidential Libraries in the National Archives and Records Service (NARS) and was the supervisory archivist on the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Materials Project. He is a member of various professional organizations and, as a career-long member of the Society of American Archivists, he was very active in the Archivists and Archives of Color Roundtable.  His publications include writings on the history of Howard University. In 1995, Muse co-authored Howard in Retrospect: Images of the Capstone, a history of Howard University, with Thomas Battle, Ph.D. A Howard alumnus, Muse received both his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in history from Howard. He is a military veteran, having served in the United States Air Force for four years.