Dr. Cole is an anthropologist, educator and museum director who became widely known as the first African-American female president of Spelman College in Atlanta, serving from 1987 to 1997. She later served as the president of Bennett College from 2002 to 2007. She has been the director of the Smithsonian Institution’s national Museum of African Art since 2009. Prior to becoming president of Spelman and Bennett Colleges, Cole taught at several institutions, including Washington State University, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Hunter College and Emory University. She has been a director of Merck & Co. since 1994 and was the first woman elected to the board of Coca Cola. Throughout the years, Cole has received several honorary degrees from Williams College, Bates College, Oberlin College, Mount Holyoke College, Howard University and North Carolina A&T State University.