Reflections : Leaders & Luminaries

The legacy of Clark Atlanta University and its School of Business Administration includes some of the most influential leaders in business history. From world-renowned scholars to innovative entrepreneurs, the School has long served as the source for future-forward business leadership for more than seven decades.


From the beginning, the CAU School of Business Administration has been led by forward-thinking educators, many of whom were among the nation’s first African Americans to earn advanced degrees in accounting, economics, and finance.  

These trailblazers mentored generations of minority business leaders, conducted the country’s earliest research on black businesses, and led nationally acclaimed initiatives focused on the economic challenges facing the African American Community.  

  • Lorimer D. Milton Director/Dean -1946-1952
  • Samuel Z. Westerfield Jr. Dean- 1952- 1961

  • Harding B. Young Dean- 1961-1969

  • Robert Vowels Dean- 1969-1978

  • George Neffinger Acting Dean- 1976 

  • Augustus Sterne Dean- 1978-1982
  • Roosevelt Thomas Dean- 1982-1983

  • Johnnie Clark Dean- 1983-1985

  • Robert Lynn Acting Dean-1985-1988


  • Reverend C.J. Brown Principal, Business College -1883-1886
  • George L. Griswold Head of the Department -1927-1930
  • Adolphus B. Wright (AU '27) Department Chair -1930-1955
  • Larzette G. (Hale) Wilson Department Chair -1955-1960
  • William T. Robie (CC '48) Department Chair -1960-1966
  • James A. Hefner (AU '62) Department Chair -1970
  • Gladys W. Cothran Department Chair -1967-1969
  • Barbara A.P. Jones Department Chair - 1971-1980
  • Barbara M. Brown Department Chair - 1981-1984
  • William H. Brown Acting Department Chair -1984-1989


  • Gladys W. Cothran Chair, Business Education-1969-1970 
  • Jennye T. Harland Chair, Business Education 1970-1977 
  • Jane Dawkins Chair, Business Education 1978-2000
  • Robert Lynn Acting Dean- 1988-1989
  • Edward D. Irons Dean- 1990-1995
  • Edward Davis Dean- 1999-2004 Acting Dean- 1995-1999 2007-2010 | 2015-2017
  • Jonathan Jefferson Dean- 2004-2007
  • Lydia McKinley-Floyd Dean- 2010-2012
  • Charles T. Moses Interim Dean- 2012-2015
  • Kasim Alli Interim Dean- 2017-2018
  • Silvanus J. Udoka Dean- 2018- Present 


The Clark Atlanta University School of Business Administration has built a strong community of trailblazing business luminaries throughout its history. They are an illustrious group of alumni, educators, and entrepreneurs whose historic achievements reflect the School’s commitment to excellence.   

  •  Atlanta University’s First Valedictorian (1876)

  • First African American  to serve Paymaster in the US Army (1898)

  • Founder of Citizens and Southern Bank & Trust Company,Philadelphia's first black-owned Trust Company (1921)


  • Founder of the National Bankers Association (1927)

  • Among the first graduates of Clark University’s Business College in 1884.

  • Founded Tennessee’s third African American medical school, the Chattanooga National Medical College, (1898-1904)

  • Among the first graduates of Clark University’s Business College in 1884.
  • Merchant and South Atlanta’s first black Postmaster (1889).
  • Founder, Cunningham & Sons, one of Atlanta’s first African American-owned real estate companies (1892) 

  • Member, Clark University Board of Trustees (1908-1932)

  • Founder of Pace Phonograph Corporation and Black Swan Records, the first record label owned by an African American with wide distribution capabilities (1921).

  • Founder of the Northeastern Life Insurance Company the largest African-American-owned business in the North during the 1930s.

  • Chartered the Atlanta Branch of the NAACP in 1917 with Dr. Charles S. Johnson and fellow Alums: James Weldon Johnson (1894), Dr. Louis T. Wright (1911), and Walter Francis White (1916)

  • Clark University Alumnus who becomes the first known African American graduate of Harvard Business School in 1915.

  • Joins his father’s firm, Cunningham & Sons, one of Atlanta’s first African American-owned real estate companies in 1916.

  • Son of Atlanta's first African-American millionaire businessman Alonzo F. Herndon and Adrienne Elizabeth McNeil Henderson, Atlanta University’s first director of dramatics and elocution in 1895
  • Atlanta University Alumnus who becomes one of the first African Americans to graduate from  Harvard Business School in 1921.
  • Succeeded his father as president of African American-owned Atlanta Life insurance Company in 1927 and grew its assets from $1M to $84M by 1973.
  • Created the Alonzo F. and Norris B. Herndon Foundation to advance the Herndon legacy through education, mentoring, and preparing the next generation of entrepreneurs.
  • Assoc. Professor who helped to build the Business Administration program at Bennett College

  • Served as executive assistant to Clark College President James P. Brawley (1943-1950)

  • Founded the nationally renowned Westside Preparatory School in Chicago
  • Graduated Clark College with degree in Secretarial Sciences in Dept. of Business Administration
  • Co-founded Atlanta’s first African American-owned Drugstore Chain, Yates & Milton Drugstore (1923) with Lorimer D. Milton, the first Dean of Atlanta University’s School of Business Administration.
  • Co-founded the first Blk-owned savings and loan in Milwaukee, Columbia Savings and Loan Association(1925).
  • Chair of the Atlanta University Department of Mathematics (1930)
  • Authored the study,  Negro Business and Business Education which laid the groundwork for the establishment of the Atlanta University School of Business. (1944)
  • Professor and first Chair of the Clark College Department of Business Administration (1930-1955).
  • First woman to major in and receive a degree in business administration at Clark College.
  • Co-Founder/Manager of the accredited Johnson Schools of Business in Little Rock, Ark and Jackson, MS
  • Served as secretary at the Atlanta Life Insurance Company, while a graduate student
  • First graduate of the Atlanta University School of Business Administrationon
  • First woman to graduate from the Atlanta University School of Business Administration
  • Minister of Finance, Federal Republic of Nigeria (1976-1977) 
  • Chair/Founder, Cummings Investment Holdings 

  • EVP/Chief Administrative Officer, The Coca-Cola Company (2002-16)

  • Board Chair, Clark Atlanta University Board of  Trustees (2013-2016) 

  • Chief Executive and Executive Chairman, MTN Group, a pan-African and Middle Eastern mobile telecommunications company(2002-2011)

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