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Fri, 01.20.1933

Clara Adams, Educator born

Clara I. Adams

*The birth of Clara Adams is marked on this date in 1933.  She was a Black educator, administrator, chemist and advocate for women’s equity. 

From Baltimore, MD., Dr. Clara Isabel Adams was the daughter of William S. Adams Sr., a Bethlehem Steel Corp. longshoreman, and his wife, Mary Emma Cornish “Mimi” Adams, a domestic worker.   Her family lived in the 1800 block of Federal St.  Adams was always proud that her parents were the first in the neighborhood to purchase a set of encyclopedias for their children and made them available to other neighborhood kids when they had to do a research project for school.  She was raised in Christ United Methodist Church in East Baltimore  It was while she was a student at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School that her chemistry teacher played an instrumental role in helping her discover what would eventually become her life’s work. 

She graduated from Morgan State College in 1954 with a degree in Chemistry.  Three years later obtained master’s degree from Iowa State College, now Iowa State University, in Ames.  While she was studying for her master’s degree, Dr. Adams was a research fellow at the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission’s laboratory in Ames. She was later employed as a chemist at the National Heart Institute of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda before coming to Morgan in 1958 as an assistant professor of chemistry.  Taking a leave from Morgan while pursuing her Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts and in cooperation with Smith College, Dr. Adams was a teaching fellow at Smith College; she returned to Morgan in 1968 as an associate professor of chemistry. As an alumna of Morgan, gave shape and definition to an era in Morgan’s history that many refer to as ‘The Morgan Renaissance.’”  

Adams, who served five university presidents over the course of six decades “was truly one of the most significant educators in Morgan’s history,” said Burney Hollis, dean emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts in a tribute.   Adams’ journey as an alumna turned administrator began in 1968 after she joined Morgan’s faculty and returned to her alma mater as a professor.  According to her colleagues, Adams was a friend to everyone and was driven by her love for Morgan. Under her leadership, the university added 22 new undergraduate and graduate degree programs and received national accreditation for each academic program.  Clara I. Adams, Morgan State University’s second-longest serving faculty member, died on Aug. 5, 2020 due to complications with chronic kidney failure, according to Adams’ family. She was 87 years old.  

To become a Chemist and Materials Scientist

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