Fall Commencement held on December 8

Kesha Williams
November 26, 2007

Elizabeth City State University will hold its 145th Commencement Convocation at 10 a.m. on December 8 in the R. L. Vaughan Center. Dr. Lezli Baskerville, the fifth and first female President & CEO of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), is the commencement speaker. NAFEO is the only national membership, advocacy and capacity building association for all of the nation's 105 Historically Black Colleges and Universities and emerging Predominantly Black Institutions. Prior to ascending to the helm of NAFEO, Ms. Baskerville served as Vice President for Government Relations for The College Board. In that capacity, Baskerville was responsible for shaping and advancing the legislative agenda of The College Board, providing leadership to The Board's Upward Bound program and Educational Opportunity Center -TRIO programs that collectively prepare, inspire and connect low-income, first generation, traditionally underserved students and adults to college and opportunity. While serving as an officer at The College Board, attorney Baskerville shaped, directed, edited and engaged the nation in a dialogue regarding "Investing More Equitably and Efficiently in Higher Education, Creating Value for America," titled, "Challenging Times, Clear Choices: An Action Agenda for College Access and Success." She also shaped, wrote significant portions and led the Board in preparing a Supreme Court amicus curiae brief in the Gratz v. Bollinger higher education diversity case. For ten years prior to joining The College Board, Attorney Baskerville managed a successful private legal and legislative services collective?The Baskerville Group?that provided legal and government relations representation, advocacy and diversity services to higher education institutions and associations, municipalities, elected officials, candidates for office, non-profit associations, small businesses and corporations. In this capacity, Baskerville shaped and wrote significant portions of twenty-eight (28) national public policy documents. For two decades Baskerville served as outside counsel to NAFEO and played central roles in preparing Supreme Court amicus curiae briefs on behalf of NAFEO, the National Medical Association and National Bar Association in leading educational equity and affirmative cases, such as Weber, Bakke, and Fullilove. Baskerville also conducted research and prepared numerous policy documents for NAFEO during that time. Attorney Baskerville also served as executive director of the National Black Leadership Roundtable, Appellate Counsel at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, national legislative counsel for the NAACP, and as an administrative appeals judge in the District of Columbia. Lezli Baskerville received a Bachelor of Arts degree, with honors from Douglass College, Rutgers University and in 1998, was inducted into The Douglass Society (the College's Hall of Fame) in recognition of her unstinting commitment to improving the quality of life of vulnerable populations. She holds a Juris Doctorate degree with honors from Howard University School of Law, and an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Benedict College. Baskerville is also a graduate of the Executive Management Program for Minority Directors at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Business. Ms. Baskerville is the recipient of numerous awards and citations. She was named by AOL Black Voices as one of the nation's "Top 10 Black Women in Higher Education," and by Ebony Magazine for three consecutive years as one of America's Top 100 Most Influential Association Leaders. She was recently included in The History Makers, a national oral history of African American achievement. Baskerville is a member of the Shiloh Baptist Church of Washington, D.C., where she was a founding member of the Shiloh Legal Eagles and a member of the inaugural pro bono legal team. She served for ten years as First Lady of Alcorn State University until August 19, 2006, when her Life's Partner, President Clinton Bristow, Jr., fell to his death.