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Profiles In Badassery: Arthur J. Bond

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I am all about promoting people who make the world a better place. That is what the Profile In Badassery was originally about, and it has been awhile since I have done a profile on someone that is a little obscure. Today that changes.

Arthur J. Bond is the current Dean of the School of Engineering and Technology at Alabama A&M University in Normal, AL. He is also an activist on racial issues and a former military veteran who served during the Vietnam War. He continues to be a prime example of a Boilermaker badass by promoting the enrollment of more African Americans in the engineering and technology fields. Let's learn a little more about how this man is giving back to the world after Purdue gave to him.

Bond's background:

The best description of Bond's background can be described in his official Purdue Biography:

"I've always been interested in electrical engineering," says Arthur Bond. "I've always liked to tear apart anything and everything."

Bond's natural instincts for electrical engineering began at an early age. "I got the worst whipping of my life when I tore apart our big old Stromberg Carlson radio looking for the little man inside talking," he remembers, laughing. "I couldn't sit down for weeks, because that was the only radio we had."

That tinkering led to a long career in electrical engineering and helping advance the cause of black education. That just goes to show that it does pay off when you can take things apart and put things back together at an early age.

Purdue got to him in high school when the son of his high school principal was already interested in engineering. In 1957 he enrolled at Purdue. He was a National Merit Scholar and he earned Purdue's Merit Scholarship, taking advantage of an opportunities that few African Americans had at the time. Soon he met with a roadblack.

After two years he was forced to leave Purdue after suffering a softball injury. Once he recovered, he joined the Army because he saw the Vietnam War was growing. He also knew he could get some additional financial benefits from the G.I. Bill. He served as a member of the Signal Corps. While in the army he got some additional training in electronics that would prove to be valuable later on.

He returned to Purdue in 1966 during the heart of the Civil Rights movement. As an African American, he became an active voice in the Purdue community for Civil Rights. This is where his lifelong desire to increase minority enrollment in engineering. President Hovde asked him to serve on a steering committee during his tenure, and it became the first national movement to increase minority enrollment. It also started the modern incarnation of Purdue's Black Cultural Center. He was also a founder of the National Society of Black Engineers.

Bond finished his undergraduate degree in 1966. He would later earn his Masters in 1968 and a Ph.D in 1974.

Life after Purdue

Once Bond received his doctorate he stayed on at Purdue as an assistant professor of electrical engineering for the next five years. He then moved northwest to the Calumet campus, where he was an associate professor. For a short time he left academia and worked for RCA, Bendix, and AlliedSignal, but he knew that his true passion was helping black men and women receive an education.

In 1989 he joined Tuskegee university as the head of its department of electrical engineering. During his time there he helped the university gain full accreditation from the Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology. Three year later he moved to his current position at Alabama A&M.

At the time, Alabama A&M was involved in the Knight vs. Alabama lawsuit, in which the plaintiff class, joined by the U.S. Justice Department, argued that the State of Alabama's system public university funding was a violation of equal right. Alabama A&M was pretty founded as the black Purdue of Alabama during segregation. Since Auburn is Alabama's land grant university, and blacks were not allowed to go there, Alabama A&M was founded under the separate but equal principle. It is still one of the top engineering HBCUs in the country. The ruling also stated that whatever level the program was built to in nine years would constitute the required level of funding by the state.

Bond met this challenge head on. In 1997 the school offered its first engineering courses. Three years later mechanical and electrical engineering was accredited retroactive to 1998. He is continuing to work on establishing Master's and Ph.D programs at the school as well. He also wants to raise the percentage of minority engineers to reflect the U.S. population.

Even though I am a white guy, I have to applaud bond's efforts to bring opportunities to people who, for far too long, have not had the same opportunities based on the absolutely retarded principle that the color of one's skin can make someone more or less worthy than someone else. It is ridiculous that we are now in the 21st century, yet Bond still had to fight just to get funding for educational opportunities for black people. Purdue has already honored him three times since 2000:

  • 2000: Outstanding Electrical and Computer Engineer, Purdue University
  • 2005: Distinguished Engineering Alumni, Purdue University
  • 2009: Doctor of Engineering (Honoris Causa), Purdue University

While this Profile in Badassery designation is not as distinguished as anything else he has earned, It is still but a small, but well deserved honor.

"We are being fairly successful now, but there is still work to be done," he says. "Where are we going? We've got to make the doors open. We've got to make the schools just as good as we can." - Arthur J. Bond