Adriel A. Hilton, assistant professor and director of Western Carolina University’s College Student Personnel Program, has been selected as the 2014 Outstanding Professional Contribution and Distinguished Scholar honoree for the North Carolina College Personnel Association. In connection with the award, Hilton will be the keynote speaker and receive the award at the 2015 NCCPA Research Symposium to be held in Wilmington on Friday, Feb. 13, and will be recognized at the 2015 American College Personnel Association conference in Tampa in March.
Hilton has conducted award-winning research and has been an author or co-author on nearly four dozen articles on topics related to black males in postsecondary education, black graduate education and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). In addition, he has served as an editor for two books and co-author of eight book chapters.
He said his work and presentations examine the continuing importance and relevance of affirmative action policies and HBCUs, as well as how institutions reward students from traditional backgrounds and further marginalize non-traditional students. “This research is important to the field of higher education and beyond as the United States continues to become more diverse,” said Hilton. “Government leaders as well as colleges and universities will want to better understand the impact on diversity of substituting race neutral admissions for the more traditional affirmative action policies.”
Hilton earned three degrees from HBCUs – a doctorate in higher education focused on administration from Morgan State University, a master’s degree in applied social science with an emphasis in public administration from Florida A&M University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in finance from Morehouse College. A native of Miami, he was inspired to attend Morehouse College at a young age because it was the alma mater of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. as well as NAACP leaders Julian Bond and Jamal Harrison Bryant.
Hilton said his work is motivated in part by personal experiences and challenges he has faced. While an honors student at a magnet high school, he submitted an English assignment early only to have the teacher claim later that he had not completed it, contact his parents and school officials, and note that “young black men do not complete assignments early,” he said. “Weeks later she found the assignment in her desk drawer,” said Hilton. “At that point, I became more determined in all that I do to try to make sure that my work is, indeed, of quality.”