Cumberland University


CU adjunct professor McDonald receives SPLC appointment



Rev. Dr. Michael E. McDonald, JD, MPA, PAC, Adjunct Professor of Criminal Justice and Political Science at Cumberland University, has received an appointment to a national advisory board for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

Selected from a pool of more than 500 educators nationwide, McDonald will act as a member of the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance Advisory Board. The newly established 22-member board will advise the SPLC on issues of diversity and K-12 education as part of the civil rights organization’s Teaching Tolerance program.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be a part of the board, and I hope that the position will broaden my understanding of diversity,” said McDonald. “I hope it will benefit my students as well, by bringing more to the conversation and dialogue at Cumberland University and Volunteer State Community College.”

A scholar with a background in diversity and public interest law, McDonald is an adjunct professor with Cumberland University’s School of Liberal Arts & Sciences and a professor of political science at Volunteer State Community College. Originally from Buffalo, New York, McDonald has previously served as the Vice Chancellor for Diversity and General Legal Counsel for the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

In 1993, McDonald became the first African-American and youngest person elected to be Commissioner of Elections for Nashville-Davidson County. In 2005, the National Campaign for Tolerance recognized McDonald’s achievements by placing his name on the organization’s Wall of Tolerance. An ordained minister, McDonald also recently published College Life 101, a guide for Christian college students.

As part of the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance Advisory Board, McDonald has already begun making recommendations for the program’s biannual magazine, which reaches approximately 400,000 educators nationwide. In January 2012, the professor will attend the board’s first meeting in Montgomery, Alabama.

For McDonald, Teaching Tolerance’s mission to foster social justice and equality in the classroom is a critical one.

“Diversity within a K-12 model is critical for placing the seeds in the minds of children to ask what it means to be different or unique,” said McDonald. “Education systems have a phenomenal responsibility to create models that reflect tolerance and positivity, and Teaching Tolerance represents a broad base for that sort of diversity. I’m humbled to be one of the 22 selected to be a part of it.”