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Mildred Barnes Griggs served as professor and dean of the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and is a nationally recognized leader in the field of home economics. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2015.
Mildred Barnes was born in Marianna (Lee County) on March 11, 1942. After graduating from Robert R. Moton High School in Marianna, she studied at Arkansas AM&N College in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County)—which is now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB)—graduating in May 1963 with a degree in education.
She earned graduate degrees, including a doctorate, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1967 and 1970. After joining the faculty in 1970, she became the first African American to be promoted through the academic ranks of assistant, associate, and full professor at the university, teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses. She was also the first female dean of a college at the university, being appointed in 1995. Griggs is married and has two children.
Griggs served as the national president of the American Home Economics Association (AHEA) in 1982–83. In addition, she served as one of two University of Illinois Faculty Athletics Representatives to the Big Ten and the National Collegiate Athletic Association for twelve years. She authored or contributed to a number of academic articles and pamphlets, including “Research Priorities and Goals for Vocational Educational Personnel Development” (1990) and “Factors That Influence the Academic and Vocational Development of African American and Latino Youth” (1992), both published by the National Center for Research in Vocational Education. In addition, she served as editor of the journal Illinois Teacher of Home Economics. In 1999, she was appointed by Governor George H. Ryan to the Governor’s Advisory Council on Literacy. The following year, she received the Distinguished Service Award from the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (formerly the AHEA).
Upon her retirement from the university in 2000, Griggs earned a Doctor of Law degree from the College of Law at the University of Illinois and obtained a license to practice law in Illinois and Arkansas. She also served as the president of the Champaign-Urbana Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority in 2004–2006 and 2008–2009. In 2014, she was appointed by UAPB as a delegate to the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.
Griggs became a consultant at Eastern Arkansas Economic Council (EAEC), focusing on outreach and advocacy for socially disadvantaged farmers in the Arkansas Delta. In addition, she is involved with the nonprofit Seeds for Change, which partners with Heifer International to help small farmers produce for the market.
For additional information:
“Dr. Mildred Barnes Griggs, Esquire.” Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. http://arblackhalloffame.org/honorees/dr-mildred-barnes-griggs-esquire/ (accessed September 1, 2017).
Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture
Last Updated 9/1/2017
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