TROY alumnus and trustee honored for leadership in diversity in Alabama

TROY trustee Lamar P. Higgins, right, and former UA trustee Cleo Thomas were recognized for leadership in diversity by ALAHEDO President Dilworth.

TROY trustee Lamar P. Higgins, right, and former UA trustee Cleo Thomas were recognized for leadership in diversity by ALAHEDO President Dilworth.

Troy University Trustee Lamar P. Higgins has been recognized by a statewide association of higher education diversity officers.

Higgins, along with former University of Alabama Trustee Cleo Thomas, was recognized with the Louis Dale Diversity Leadership Award by the Alabama Association of Higher Education Diversity Officers during their annual conference on Oct. 11 in the Montgomery Campus Gold Room.

The presentations were made following both men’s participation in a panel discussion about changes they’ve witnessed during their careers in higher education. The panel was led by Dr. Charles Nash, Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs at UA and chairman of the ALAHEDO board of directors.

Dr. Paulette Patterson Dilworth, ALAHEDO’s current president and University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, made the presentations to the honorees, marking the first time the award was presented to two recipients.

That wasn’t unfamiliar territory to either recipient – both are accustomed to be being a “first.” 

Like Thomas at UA, Higgins was the first African-American student government association president at TROY, and the first African-American to be appointed to their institution’s respective board of trustees. He also holds the distinction as the only Troy University SGA president to be elected to a second term without opposition.

 “The award is presented to a person (or persons) who has or have made contributions over the years to improving diversity and inclusion in their respective colleges or universities,” said Ray White, Vice Chancellor of the Montgomery Campus, who helped coordinate the conference and who served many years as the University’s diversity officer.

As a trustee, Higgins led the planning and development of the University’s annual Leadership Conference Celebrating Black History Month, co-sponsored by the City of Troy. He also led the charge to build the Rosa Parks Library and Museum on the Montgomery Campus, where the museum’s conference room is named in his honor. This year, he was elected Vice President Pro-Tempore of the Board of Trustees, making him the first African-American trustee elected to board leadership.

Higgins has a distinguished career in public and governmental service. He has served as executive assistant to the Governor of Alabama; special assistant to U.S. Senator Howell T. Heflin; state aid to Alabama Supreme Court Justice Oscar Adams; assistant director of human resources of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center; equal employment officer for the City of Huntsville, and assistant director of the Alabama Department of Economic & Community Affairs. Higgins is currently a partner at Fine Geddie & Associates, a governmental affairs firm in Montgomery.