Dr. Jewel Limar Prestage, educator, author, and scholar, began her remarkable career at the age of 22, when she was handed her PhD diploma at the University of Iowa. Her uncommon efforts as a student of political science made her the first black woman to receive a doctorate in that field from an American university.
From that moment on, Dr. Prestage has distinguished herself in every endeavor she has undertaken. After earning her M.A. in 1952 and her PhD in 1954 from the UI, she began her teaching career as an associate professor of political science at Prairie View College, Prairie View, Texas, in 1954. In 1956, she took a position as associate professor of political science at Southern University, Baton Rouge, where she has served a variety of capacities ever since.
The distinction and dedication that Dr. Prestage has brought to her profession over the years is exemplified in the offices she has held: as vice president of the American Political Science Association, president of the Southern Political Association, and president of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists. She has been a consultant to 26 organizations, contributed articles to scholarly journals, edited volumes in political science and higher education, and served on the editorial board of five publications, including Social Science Quarterly, Journal of Social and Behavioral Science, American Politics Quarterly, and Public Administration Review.
Dr. Prestage's life is notable not only for her broad-ranging work in the field of political science, but also by her extensive civic and community service. In 1980, she was appointed by President Carter to the National Advisory Counsel on Women's Educational Programs for the U.S. Department of Education. Dr. Prestage is a member of the Board of Directors, Voter Education Project of Atlanta, Georgia; a member of the Ford Foundation Committee on Programs to Assist Black Colleges, and, from 1975 to 1981, was chairperson of the Louisiana State Advisory Committee, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
As large as Dr. Prestage's contribution has been to the field of political science, the most rewarding fruits of her labor may be the impact she has had on a large number of black students who have gone on to graduate school and become leaders in their organizations.
Dr. Prestage, a life member of the Alumni Association, is currently dean of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Southern University, Baton Rouge.