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2017 Inaugural Awardee

James S. Jackson, PhD

Dr. James S. Jackson was the inaugural recipient of the University of Michigan’s Distinguished Diversity Scholar Career Award. The award was renamed in his honor — the James S. Jackson Distinguished Career Award for Diversity Scholarship — following his distinguished lecture in the Fall of 2017.

As the founding director of the Program for Research on Black Americans (PRBA), Dr. Jackson was internationally recognized for his innovative research on the influence of race on the health of African Americans, including the groundbreaking National Survey of Black Americans (NSBA) and National Survey of American Life (NSAL) which are considered the most extensive social, economic, and mental and physical health surveys of the US Black population across the lifespan. These and other frameworks that have come out of the PRBA have provided a foundational framework for understanding racial and ethnic disparities in physical and mental health across the lifespan, and elevated the value of applied work in academic fields.

Throughout the course of his career, Dr. Jackson created training opportunities for — and also served as mentor, advocate, and sponsor for — generations of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty of color. These scholars in turn have continued to engage in groundbreaking research, and serve as influential academics in their own right — addressing critical issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in their research, teaching, mentoring, and public engagement across multiple fields.




The University of Michigan’s National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID) and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) is saddened to acknowledge the recent passing of James S. Jackson on September 1, 2020.

Dr. Jackson was a beloved mentor and extraordinary scholar who touched the lives of many, both directly and indirectly, through his work as a researcher and teacher.

His academic legacy will continue in the work and lives of his students, as well as in the recipients of this award — the James S. Jackson Distinguished Career Award for Diversity Scholarship.


New York Times

Ann Arbor News

Muehlig Funeral Chapel

Dartmouth News



On Monday, October 30, 2017, Dr. Jackson delivered the Distinguished Diversity Scholar Career Award Lecture, "From Affirmative Action to Diversity in Higher Education":

The celebration of diversity in higher education has been a long time coming. There are many reasons for this tortuous path and we will explore some of them in my talk. The University of Michigan has been a leader in this journey, but not without its own missteps in the larger context of racialized social and political beliefs, and actions in the larger culture of the United States.

View Dr. Jackson's lecture below:



Bridging the Past, Present and Future: Forty Years of Research on Black Americans

This day-long symposium immediately preceded Dr. Jackson's Distinguished Diversity Scholar Lecture, bringing together many of Dr. Jackson’s former students, collaborators, and colleagues to discuss issues of race, ethnicity, and health outcomes.

Aging and Physical Health Research
Tom LaVeist, George Washington University (PPT)
Peter Litchenberg, Wayne State University
Briana Metzuk, University of Michigan

Research on Discrimination and Social Identity
Courtney Cogburn, Columbia University (PPT)
Patrica Gurin, University of Michigan
Eleanor Seaton, Arizona State University (PPT)
David Williams, Harvard University (PPT)

Research from the Ground-Breaking Program for Research on Black Americans Data Sets with a focus on Politics, Religion, Caribbean Blacks, & Adolescents
R. Khari Brown, Wayne State University (PPT)
Cleopatra Howard Caldwell, University of Michigan
Linda Chatters, University of Michigan
Ishtar Govia, University of the West Indies
Robert J. Taylor, University of Michigan

The Mental Health of Black Americans
Carl Bell, Jackson Park Hospital Family Medicine Clinic (PPT)
Darrell Hudson, Washington University
Harold W. Neighbors, Michigan State University (PPT)
Belinda Tucker, University of California at Los Angeles