Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton has named former Congressman Louis Stokes as the 2013-14 Kent State President’s Ambassador.
The President’s Ambassadorship, a one-year, part-time appointment that begins in the fall, is designed to bring distinguished local minority leaders and professionals to share their knowledge and experience with the Kent State community.
“I am very excited for the opportunity to serve as the Kent State President’s Ambassador, and deem it quite an honor,” Stokes said. “I am excited to work with the school and the students.”
The President’s Ambassador is expected to help promote pluralistic understanding and mutual respect among diverse constituencies of students, staff, faculty and administrators at Kent State; help address diversity challenges; implement diversity initiatives; engage students; and assist with other responsibilities that advance universitywide goals.
“Mr. Stokes achieved many firsts in the course of his successful career as a distinguished lawyer, former congressman and civil-rights activist, and we are honored that he has accepted to partner with Kent State by serving as our new President’s Ambassador,” Lefton said. “I have no doubt that he will use his more than three decades of public service experience to help broaden the scope of our diversity initiatives and engage successfully with members of our university community and other Kent State partners in the larger community.”
Alfreda Brown, Kent State’s vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, said having Stokes in the position is an honor.
“He has been a champion for diversity and inclusion throughout his entire career and embodies the spirit of the President’s Ambassador program,” she said.
Stokes, who became the first African-American member of Congress from the state of Ohio, served 15 consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was educated in the Cleveland Public Schools, graduating from Central High School. After three years of service in the U.S. Army, Stokes returned to Cleveland and attended Western Reserve University. He earned his Doctor of Laws degree from Cleveland-Marshall Law School in 1953.
Stokes practiced law for 14 years before serving in Congress. As a practicing lawyer, he participated in three cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, including arguing the landmark “stop and frisk” case of Terry v. Ohio. He played a pivotal role in the quest for social and economic justice, civil rights and equality throughout his career.
Stokes has received several awards and honors, recognizing his national leadership and commitment to public service. A number of landmarks in the city of Cleveland and nationally have been named in his honor.
Stokes is the recipient of 27 honorary doctorate degrees. He received the Congressional Distinguished Service Award in 2003, becoming the first African-American to earn this honor. He was honored by the American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession with a 2010 Spirit of Excellence Award for his dedication to expanding opportunity in the legal profession to all minorities. In 2011, he was inducted into the International Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta.
Stokes serves on the advisory board to the International Spy Museum, the board of the Western Reserve Historical Society, the board of directors of Forest City Enterprises Inc. and the board of directors of the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. In 2006, he served on the National Science Board’s Commission on 21st Century Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.