Morris Brown College building renamed in honor of veteran educator
ATLANTA (July 2020) – Morris Brown College’s administration building has been officially renamed the Dr. Gloria L. Anderson Multi-Purpose Complex in honor of its veteran educator. “Dr. Gloria L. Anderson is Morris Brown College and has given much of her life to serve its faculty, staff, and students. I could not be more pleased to honor her service in this way,” said Dr. Kevin James, president of Morris Brown College.
Dr. Gloria Long Anderson is the Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Chemistry at Morris Brown College, and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Additionally, she has served as Interim President of Morris Brown on several occasions. She is known for her studies of fluorine-19 and solid rocket propellants. Dr. Anderson has been employed at Morris Brown for 53 years.
Anderson was born in Altheimer, Arkansas, where she was raised. She is the daughter of Elsie Foggie Long and Charley Long, sharecroppers with a tenth and third grade education, respectively, and the fourth child in a family of six children. She was the only female and learned to read before she was four. Her father was a farmer and a janitor, and her mother was a domestic worker and seamstress. While she helped on the farm, her parents prioritized her education and allowed her to start elementary school at the age of four. She attended segregated public schools, including the Altheimer Training School, and was an outstanding student who skipped grades, graduating high school at age 16, in 1954. She received a Rockefeller Fellowship between 1956 and 1958, and graduated as the valedictorian from Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal College in 1958 summa cum laude with a degree in chemistry.
Though she was accepted to graduate school at Stanford University, she was unable to study there for lack of funding. She was then rejected for a position at the Ralston Purina Company because she was African American. Anderson taught seventh grade at a school in Altheimer before accepting an Atlanta University teaching assistantship and position in their master’s program. She earned her master’s degree in chemistry at Atlanta in 1961, with a thesis supervised by Kimuel Huggins on a novel synthesis of butadiene. She taught for a year at South Carolina State College and then moved to Morehouse College, where she spent two years working with Henry Cecil McBay and taught chemistry.
She began her doctoral studies at the University of Chicago in 1965 and worked with Leon Stock on the nuclear magnetic resonance and CF infrared frequency shifts of fluorine-19. Throughout her time there, she was mentored by Thomas Cole and tutored other chemistry students. Anderson received her physical organic chemistry Ph.D. in 1968 and became associate professor and chair at Morris Brown College’s department of chemistry. She chose to conduct her research at a historically Black college in the wake of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination that year, and considers her work there as her contribution to the United States’ civil rights movement. In 1973, she became the Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Chemistry and Chair, which she returned to in 1990 after serving as Dean of Academic Affairs from 1984 to 1989. Her work has been applied to antiviral drugs. Anderson became Morris Brown’s interim president thrice, from 1992 to 1993, in 1998, and in 2019. She was Dean of Science and Technology from 1995 to 1997. Throughout her career, her research has continued on fluorine-19 and its interactions with other atoms, using it to probe synthesis reactions. Anderson’s research has also covered epoxidation mechanisms, solid-fuel rocket propellants, antiviral drug synthesis, fluoridated pharmaceutical compounds, and substituted amantadines.
Outside of academia, Anderson was appointed by President Richard Nixon for a six-year term on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s board in 1972, where she also served as chair for women, minorities, and human resources groups, and later as vice chair of the board from 1977 to 1979. She received patents in 2001 and 2009.
Anderson was named among the brightest scientists in Atlanta, Georgia in 1983 by Atlanta Magazine.