Education 2023: JAVAUNE ADAMS-GASTON
PRESIDENT, NORFOLK STATE UNIVERSITY, NORFOLK
Rising in prominence since Adams-Gaston became its leader in 2019, Norfolk State now ranks regularly in the top 20 historically Black colleges and universities, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
In 2021, Norfolk State received its largest single-donor gift, $40 million from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. The private HBCU also has made headlines from its connections with native Virginia music legends Pharrell Williams and Missy Elliott, who delivered NSU commencement speeches in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
Named a Trailblazer of Title IX by the Women Leaders in College Sports in 2022, Adams-Gaston — NSU’s seventh president and third woman in that role — also serves on President Joe Biden’s HBCUs advisory board, along with Virginia State University President Makola M. Abdullah.
Adams-Gaston has overseen the expansion of NSU’s online academic programs in recent years, including master’s degrees in cybersecurity and cyberpsychology.
Prior to joining NSU, Adams-Gaston served as senior vice president for student life at Ohio State University and held several executive positions at the University of Maryland.