IAA Honors Current CIAA Female Presidents as Title IX Trailblazers


In continued celebration and acknowledgment of the 50th Anniversary of Title IX, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), the nation’s oldest historically Black athletic conference, will now recognize five women who are currently leading CIAA institutions as president/chancellor. These women are just five of a total of 50 CIAA Title IX Trailblazers, who will be recognized during the 2023 CIAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament, which will be held from February 21-25 at the CFG Bank Arena in Baltimore, MD.

It is not an understatement to say that the CIAA would not be where it is today without the past, present, and future efforts and leadership of these five women– Dr. Brenda A. Allen, Dr. Aminta H. Breaux, Dr. Paulette Dillard, Dr. Karrie G. Dixon, and Dr. Christine Johnson McPhail. 

Dr. Brenda A. Allen, Lincoln (PA)

In 2017, Dr. Brenda A. Allen became the first female president of Lincoln (PA) University. Dr. Allen’s current priorities are enhancing academic quality and improving operational effectiveness with projects such as revising the curriculum, increasing support for faculty teaching and scholarship, expanding co-curricular opportunities, and restructuring the administration.

Additionally, Dr. Allen has made progress on extensive renovations, upgrades, and additions to the 422-acre, 56-building campus. The facilities improvements include both restoration of the campus’ historic architecture and renewing and increasing campus housing.

In 2020, the Philadelphia Tribune named Dr. Allen one of the city’s most influential African-American leaders and in 2021, Dr. Allen was recognized as one of ten “most dominant” HBCU leaders of the year by the HBCU Campaign Fund.

Before becoming President of Lincoln (PA), Dr. Allen served as Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Winston Salem State University. Her many accomplishments at WSSU included leading the revision of the curriculum, overseeing the establishment of WSSU’s first two doctoral programs, strengthening standards for tenure and promotion, and helping raise more than $10 million for capital projects, scholarships, and other student support. 

Dr. Allen holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Lincoln University, a master’s degree in experimental psychology, and a doctorate in developmental psychology, both from Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Aminta H. Breaux | Bowie State

Dr. Breaux was selected as the 10th President of Bowie State University in 2017. Five-plus years into her tenure, Dr. Breaux has helped Bowie State’s undergraduate enrollment increase close to four percent, raised the endowment from seven million to $36 million, added several new academic programs, opened the BSU Living Learning Entrepreneurship Center, and began construction on the $159 million Martin Luther King Jr. Communications Arts & Humanities Building, which is scheduled to open in fall 2024 with amenities such as two television studios, two radio station studios, an amphitheater, and a 1500-seat auditorium.

Dr. Breaux is a leading voice in 21st-century education, and because of her extensive knowledge and expertise, she has been tapped to serve in multiple leadership roles. She was appointed to the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the Governor’s P-20 Leadership Council of Maryland. She is the chair of the Board of Directors for the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA). As chair, Dr. Breaux was instrumental in bringing the CIAA Basketball Tournament to Baltimore, MD, where Bowie State serves as the host institution.

Her recent honors include the Educator of the Year Award from the National Council of Negro Women. She also received the Trailblazer Award from the Bowie Business Innovation Center (BIC), the business accelerator located at Bowie State, in conjunction with Capital One, and the Capital City Chapter Links Inc. Leadership Award.
Dr. Paulette Dillard | Shaw

Dr. Paulette Dillard was appointed as the 18th President of Shaw University in September 2018. Prior to the appointment, Dr. Dillard was Shaw’s Interim President, starting in July 2017. Dr. Dillard’s career at Shaw began in 2012 as a biology professor before climbing up the ranks as department head and then Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Vice President of Academic Affairs.

Dr. Dillard is a trained medical technologist certified by the American Society of Clinical Pathology and has over twenty-five years of experience working in the field of diagnostic laboratory medicine. She has served as coordinator of undergraduate research infrastructure, and co-director of the academic enrichment programs for the National Institutes of Health funded National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Infrastructure in Minority Institutions project.

Dr. Dillard graduated from Barber-Scotia College. She holds a Master’s of Business Administration from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, and a Master’s of Science in Biology from Tennessee State University. Dr. Dillard earned her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Clark Atlanta University.
Dr. Karrie G. Dixon | Elizabeth City State

Dr. Karrie G. Dixon was named the Chancellor of Elizabeth City State University, officially on December 14, 2018. She is Elizabeth City State’s 12th chief executive officer and just the second woman to hold that title. Dr. Dixon served as Interim Chancellor and co-lead on the ECSU New Directions Phase 2 Operational Team before being officially appointed chancellor.

One of Dr. Dixon’s missions is to expand the national prominence of ECSU’s aviation science program and in 2019, ECSU added a four-year degree program in unmanned aircraft systems, recently building a $1.5 million, FAA-approved pavilion where students can complete their training in drone usage. 

Before arriving at ECSU, Dr. Dixon had served as a senior administrator at the University of North Carolina System since 2008. In 2014, she was promoted to Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs. Dixon was responsible for overseeing the Division of Academic and Student Affairs for the System’s 17 institutions. During her tenure, she was responsible for providing University-wide guidance for policy that shapes the work and practice within academic and student affairs divisions. Dr. Dixon also served as the Chief Student Affairs Officer for the UNC System.

Dixon is a charter member of the Black Women Collegiate Presidents and Chancellor. In 2022, Dixon was invited to serve on the North Carolina Campus Engagement Executive Board. Dixon was appointed to the Campus Compact Board of Directors in June of 2022. In 2019, Dr. Dixon was awarded “The Old North State Award,” one of the highest honors granted by the State of North Carolina, which is awarded to “individuals who have shown dedication and service beyond expectation and excellence to the Great State of North Carolina.” She also was named by the HBCU Campaign Fund, as one of “The Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2020.
Dr. Christine Johnson McPhail | Saint Augustine’s

Dr. Christine Johnson McPhail was appointed President of Saint Augustine’s on February 24, 2021. Since her arrival, Dr. McPhail’s impact as president includes a 10-year high in Fall Enrollment, record-breaking alumni giving, and an outpour of federal funding to cover student account balances. In addition, SAU has secured grants of $499,000 and $400,000 to repurpose and preserve Hermitage Hall and St. Agnes Hospital, respectively.

Plans are underway to launch a capital campaign to expand the campus and improve the student experience. The campaign involves improving current buildings and constructing facilities to house SAU’s newly formed Centers of Innovation. Also, SAU is moving forward with plans to reimagine St. Agnes Place and to develop a physician’s assistant program.

Dr. McPhail is a nationally recognized, well-respected thought leader in higher education. She is the Founding Professor and Director of the Community College Leadership Doctoral Program at Morgan State University. Under McPhail’s leadership, Morgan State University became a Carnegie-classified doctoral research institution, indicating that the program awarded at least 20 research/scholarship doctoral degrees during the year.
On February 25, the CIAA will be crowning the 2023 champion in men’s and women’s basketball and so every week leading into the CIAA Basketball Tournament, the conference will be recognizing a set of trailblazers.

Additionally, as part of the continued efforts to champion and highlight the 50th Anniversary of Title IX, the CIAA has introduced a dedicated Title IX Page on its website, featuring archives of the CIAA Woman of the Years, various other relevant news releases, and video podcast episodes highlighting some amazing women inside and outside the conference. 

Title IX imagery will be featured heavily during the CIAA Tournament. Last month, the CIAA inducted an all-women’s Hall of Fame class for 2023 in honor of Title IX. Tickets are currently on sale for the CIAA Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which is scheduled for Friday, February 24 at 9 a.m.

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