10 Black CEOs who changed the face of leadership in corporate America

Ben Ebuka February 14, 2023
Cliff Reginald Wharton, Jnr. — Photo Credit: Dr. Clifton Wharton JR

Cliff Reginald Wharton, Jnr.

Cliff Wharton, Jnr., is a pioneering economist, corporate executive, and the son of Clifton R. Wharton Snr. Wharton received his diploma from Boston Latin School in 1943, and a B.A degree in History from Harvard University in 1947.

He achieved many firsts, including being the first Black American to earn a master of arts degree in international affairs from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of John Hopkins University; the first Black American to earn a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago; and the first Black American to hold the position of the President of Michigan State University.

In 1978 he became the Chancellor of the 64-campus State University of New York System, making him the first Black American to lead the largest university system in the United States.

In 1987 he became the CEO of TIAA-CREF, making him the first Black American to ascend to the C-level position of a major corporation in the US.


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