ATLANTA—Morehouse College celebrates Dr. Ida Rousseau Mukenge’s 50 years of global impact as a faculty member. The five-time Fulbright scholar and sociology professor has had a personal mission to “take Morehouse to the world and bring the world to Morehouse.” Upon her retirement this spring, Morehouse will honor her life’s work at its commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 16 at 9 a.m.
Dr. Mukenge’s scholarship is wide-ranging and reflects her passion for African heritage and social transformation with more than a half-century studying, working, and conducting research in Africa and about the African diaspora. Her research interests include relationships between work, identity, and mental health; church and society; women in leadership; and social justice.
For her international impact, Dr. Mukenge has been awarded three core Fulbright awards and two Fulbright-Hays awards. Additionally, she has been recognized as a New York University Faculty Resource Network Scholar to Puerto Rico; Phelps-Stokes Fund Caribbean Exchange Scholar to Haiti and Guyana; United Negro College Fund Special Programs Institute for International Public Policy Faculty Fellow; and Institute of European Studies Fellow for the Bicentennial Seminar on the French Revolution.
By combining science (sociology and public health) and humanities (anthropology and modern languages), Dr. Mukenge has leveraged her work to offer a more applied, translational, and policy-related approach to helping societies around the world. One example is her work with the United Nations Development Programme’s Rebuilding Fractured Communities monographs on Burundi, Kenya, the Philippines, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Yugoslavia after conflict.
Dr. Mukenge’s global achievements can be attributed to her commitment to the expansion of international education and cross-cultural connections. She arrived at Morehouse in 1971 focused on transforming Black higher education. She has served in various leadership roles, including founding director of the Morehouse Research Institute, director of the Faculty Development Project in Mental Health Research at the National Institute for Mental Health, and chair of the W.E.B. Du Bois International House Living-Learning Residence at Morehouse.
Before coming to Morehouse, she joined the African American Institute’s Teachers for West Africa program, where she taught French at the Harford School for Girls in Moyamba, Sierra Leone for two years. Years later, she earned an opportunity to work in the U.S. foreign service as an assistant cultural attaché and English teaching officer in Congo-Kinshasa for three years. Those experiences informed how she would promote cultural competency and scholarship later at Morehouse.
Fluent in French, Dr. Mukenge served as a director of the Atlanta University Center summer study abroad programs in Haiti and initiated programs in Guadeloupe and Martinique. She also established “Morehouse in Oaxaca” and “Morehouse in Bahia,” two Fulbright-Hays programs for collegiate and K-12 educators in the humanities and social sciences.
It was in Brazil in the mid-1990s as a Consortium for Interinstitutional Cooperation in African and Latin American Studies Staff fellow studying Portuguese and conducting research that Dr. Mukenge was introduced to the Steve Biko Cultural Institute, which prepares Black Brazilian students for university admission. This longstanding relationship resulted in three Brazilian alumni of the Institute attending Morehouse, where they graduated with degrees in sociology and public health; economics and international studies; and mathematics.
Dr. Mukenge is a four-time graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, having earned a bachelor’s degree in French and linguistics, a master’s degree in comparative education with certification in ESL, a master’s degree in sociology, and a doctorate in sociology.
Dr. Mukenge was born in Troup, Texas, and spent her childhood in Richmond, California. She is married to Dr. Tshilemalema Mukenge, professor emeritus at Morris Brown College, and mother to three adult children.
On May 16, Dr. Mukenge will be recognized for her service at Morehouse College’s 137th Annual Commencement. The ceremony is scheduled for 9 a.m. on the Century Campus, with limited seating reserved for the platform party, faculty, graduates, and up to four seats per graduate. The Commencement address will be delivered by famed Civil Rights attorney and founder/executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, Bryan A. Stevenson. Additionally, Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist and creator of The 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones, will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters.