1894 alumna’s grandson to speak at spring commencement

  • Monday, March 11, 2019

    Dr. John B. King Jr., a grandson of one of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore's earliest graduates, will deliver the 2019 spring commencement address to graduates Friday, May 24. 

    King was scheduled to speak at UMES' 2018 Founders' Day Convocation and summer commencement, but the threat of Hurricane Florence prompted Maryland's governor to declare a state of emergency as a precaution. University leaders subsequently postpone the Sept. 13 ceremony, which created a schedule conflict for King. 

    King is president and chief executive of The Education Trust, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to identify and close opportunity and achievement gaps for students from preschool through college. 

    He previously served in President Barack Obama's cabinet as the 10th U.S. Secretary of Education.

    King's paternal grandmother, Estelle Stansberry, graduated in 1894 from Princess Anne Academy, when it was a secondary school affiliated with Baltimore's Morgan College. The college's 1893-94 catalog identified her as the winner of Princess Anne Academy's "declamation" prize, an oratorical competition for which she received $5. 

    Stansberry went on to become a nurse at a Philadelphia hospital that one of her sons eventually led as an administrator. 

    Before being confirmed as education secretary in March 2016, King was deputy Secretary of Education responsible for policies and programs affecting pre-school through grade 12 education, English learners, special education and innovation. 

    Prior to joining the federal agency, King was New York State Commissioner of Education from 2011 until 2014. He was the first African American to hold that post. King began his career in education as a high school social studies teacher in Puerto Rico and Boston, and as a middle school principal. 

    His parents were career New York City public school educators, both of whom died by the time he was 12 years old.  King credits his parents' peers - particularly educators at Public School 276 in Brooklyn's Canarsie neighborhood and at Mark Twain Junior High School in Coney Island - for saving his life by providing “rich and engaging educational experiences and by giving him hope for the future,” according to his online biography. 

    King earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in government from Harvard University, a law degree from Yale Law School as well as a Master of Arts in teaching of social studies and a doctorate in education from Teachers College at Columbia University.  He serves as a visiting professor at the University of Maryland's College of Education and is a member of several boards, including those for The Century Foundation, The Robin Hood Foundation and Teach Plus.

    UMES' 2019 spring graduation ceremony will be held May 24 in the William P. Hytche Athletic Center starting at 10 a.m.


    Excerpts from Dr. King's Education Trust biography were used in this announcement.