GVMagazineSpring2016 - (Page 14)
A legacy of service
by Dottie Barnes
Faite Mack, professor of education
and founding faculty member of
the College of Education, came
to Grand Valley in 1972.
He was the first African American
at Grand Valley promoted to the
rank of full professor and the first
faculty member to obtain
a Fulbright Award.
"My Fulbright professorship allowed
me to teach educational psychology
and special education at the University
of Cape Coast. My tenure in Ghana
led to the initiation of Grand Valley's
formal commitment in 1987 of a faculty
He was one of only 400 African
Americans in the U.S. with a
doctorate when he earned the
degree in 1972 from the University
"That's hard to believe, isn't it? I received
a personal letter from the president of
the University of Illinois saying I was
the seventh African American to earn a
Ph.D. in any field at the institution."
He had to fight to establish
Grand Valley's graduate program
in teacher education in 1975.
"Some faculty feared change. President
Arend D. Lubbers urged members of
the Academic Senate to support it.
They did, but wouldn't approve funding.
I wrote grants and received federal
funding that permitted the Graduate
School of Education to operate for two
years without Grand Valley general
fund support. We now have multiple
graduate programs that are highly
ranked in the state and country.
"As I look back over 43 years, it is just
amazing that at the age of 29, President
Lubbers had the faith in a young
African American scholar to grant him
the authority to initiate the funding
and proposal development of a
graduate program in teacher education."
Mack's father was a Tuskegee
airman during World War II.
"My father, Col. Faite Mack, would tell
stories about serving in Africa and
Italy, but I was young at the time and
didn't realize the significance of his
service. I have an extensive collection
of Tuskegee airman materials, including
photographs, letters and diaries.
There are several personal letters
to my mother.
"We had very important people coming
to our home near Chicago. I just
referred to them as my uncles - the
other Tuskegee leaders and astronauts.
It was a very racist time. Many believed
African Americans didn't have the
cognitive ability to fly a plane. My dad
faced a very difficult time. The army was
segregated and here he was fighting for
peace when we didn't have it in the U.S.
But my dad was very patriotic. He loved
America and knew things would change.
He believed in our Constitution - that it
would help change the status of African
Americans and all people. My family
strongly pushed education. My dad
used to say education is the one thing
that can't be taken away from you. My
mother was a nurse practitioner. They
both pushed me and my two brothers to
pursue higher education."
Carter G. Woodson is Mack's
"Woodson is the founder of Black History
Month and was the second African
American in the U.S. to earn a Ph.D.
Mack spends his summers in
northern Thailand where he
established funding for orphaned
children to attend school.
"Fifteen years ago, I was invited to
Thailand as the keynote speaker for a
national conference in special education
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of GVMagazineSpring2016
Q&A Faite Mack
Saddle up: professor leads research on speech therapy technique
Cultural competency in health care
Hot ideas and inventions
Life before Louie: making a mascot