GREENSBORO, N.C. – An educator who is known for being a champion of women’s rights and who has worked tirelessly with diverse groups for nearly two decades is the new Associate Vice President for Student Affairs at Bennett College.
Dr. Lorraine D. Acker, born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and raised in Brooklyn, New York, assumed her post on February 5. She replaces Kimberly Drye, who held the position on an interim basis for nearly 18 months and is the College’s Program Manager for Leadership Development Institute for Women.
“We are very fortunate to have Dr. Acker join the Leadership Team at Bennett College,” said President Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins. “Dr. Acker comes to us with a strong background in women’s affairs, and I am certain she will put her expertise to good use as we continue trying to improve the quality of life for our students. I look forward to the innovation and opportunities she will bring to our Belles.”
Acker earned a Bachelor of Science in African and Afro-American Studies, and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science, both from State University of New York (SUNY) at Brockport in Brockport, New York. She obtained her Master of Science degree in College Student Personnel from Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois. She received her Doctorate of Education from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.
Acker comes to Bennett from Iowa State University, where she was director of the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center and provided administrative leadership, established strategic goals, interpreted policy, represented the interest of women on University committees and collaborated with internal and external partners to advocate for gender equity for all students while specifically focusing on representing the interests of female students. While at Iowa State University, Acker also served as Assistant Dean of Student Life during the Fall 2013 Semester at Sea Voyage.
Prior to her appointment at Iowa State University, Acker spent six years as the assistant dean of students for Minority Student Support Services and Women’s Programs at UNC Charlotte. She is also a higher education consultant in the areas of program review and assessment, diversity, inclusion and gender equity.
Acker is actively involved in a variety of national organizations, including the College Student Educators International and the National Association for Student Personnel Administrators, for which she was recently elected as co-chair of the African-American Knowledge Community. In addition, she serves on the editorial board for the Journal Committed to Social change on Race and Ethnicity.
For the past 10 years, Acker’s research agenda has focused on the intersection of race, gender and relationship violence within higher education and black undergraduate women engagement in college, as well as the role of campus-based women’s centers in black undergraduate women’s engagement. Her dissertation, titled “Faces in the Crowd: A narrative inquiry into the relationship violence experienced by four black college women,” addressed how black women have experienced relationship violence in college.
Acker, who loves reading and traveling and enjoys playing tennis, moved to Greensboro with her 9-year-old son, Blake, and her mother, Delores Acker.
She said she’s happy to be part of the Bennett College Family.
“My academic and professional career has been dedicated to inspiring and mentoring women college students, so I feel extremely blessed to have the opportunity to lead the Division of Student Affairs at Bennett College,” Acker said. “In my new position, I get to focus my strengths and talents on developing the intellectual, spiritual and cultural growth of young women at Bennett.
“Because Bennett is known for its legacy, traditions and rich history of cultivating women leaders who are well-rounded global thinkers, that made my decision to join the family of Bennett Belles easy,” Acker continued. “I look forward to working with President Dawkins and the Bennett College Leadership Team to reimagine Bennett’s role in developing the next generation of women leaders.”