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Dr. Leonard Bethel

Sep 1, 2005

Ed.D. Graduate School of Education 1975

Dr. Leonard L. Bethel is a professor in the Africana Studies Department who is enter ing his 36th year of service at Rutgers University.  Dr. Bethel was born in Philadel phia, Pennsylvania and earned a B.A. in political science from Lincoln University. He then earned a master of divinity degree from the Johnson C. Smith University School of Theology and a master of arts from the New Brunswick Theology Seminary. He completed his doctorate of education from the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University In 1975.

At the time of his hire at Rutgers, he was a student at the Theological Seminary and was teaching the new Afro-American Studies program at Somerset County College (now Raritan Valley Community College). He was also counseling the first group of Black students in the Urban University Program at Rutgers University.

Dr. Bethel was the second person hired into the Rutgers College Africana Studies Department as an Assistant Instructor. He was the first Black faculty member at Rutgers College to be hired at that rank to rise up through the tenure process. He taught courses in Africana while worked towards his doctorate of education degree. Between 1970 and 2003, he served 14 years as Department Chair and became the first Chair when the Africana Studies programs at Livingston, Douglass and Rutgers Colleges united as one in 1980.

He was instrumental in the development of the new joint graduate program with the Africana Studies Department and the Graduate School of Education. In addition to the courses he has taught in Africana Studies, he is an associate member of the Graduate School of Education faculty.

Dr. Bethel has authored Africana: An Introduction and Study, Plainfield’s African-American: From Northern Slavery to Church Freedom, and Advancement through Service: A History of the Frontiers. He is presently working on two manuscripts: one on the life and times of Layle Lane, a civil rights activist involved in the first March on Washington; and one on the education of African leaders in America who subsequently returned to the continent.

In 2003, he was awarded Rutgers University’s Warren I. Susman Award for teaching excellence and was selected as a Fellow of the Oxford Roundtable, Oxford University , England. He as also been named a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at Princeton University and a Rutgers College Fellow. He has been honored with numerous service awards including The Founder’s Day/Alumni Award from Lincoln University, Distinguished Service Award from the Rutgers University Graduate School of Education Alumni Association, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity’s Man of the Year and many more.

Dr. Bethel has served on the Board of Trustees for Rutgers Preparatory School, Bloomfield College and Lincoln University. In addition, he has served on many advisory boards including Union County College, the Plainfield Adult School, New Jersey Afro-American Programming Board for the New Jersey Historical Society and the Paul Robeson Cultural Center. He has served Rutgers University through membership on various committees including 17 years on the University Senate.

Dr. Bethel lives in New Jersey with his wife Veronica. He has 2 children and 5 grandchildren.

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