PHILADELPHIA – Writing one book is a daunting task, but writing three – simultaneously – might seem near impossible. But not for Marybeth Gasman.
Gasman, an education historian and professor at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, has just finished three books – all of which she was writing and researching at the same time.
While she admits that it was sometimes difficult to balance writing all three, Gasman says that approaching race, gender, philanthropy and leadership from different angles is of great interest to her.
“I began working on one of those books in 2001, another in 2007 and another in 2008. Oddly enough, they all ended up being published within a relatively short time frame in the same academic year,” Gasman says. “I enjoy moving back and forth between projects. So, I typically work on a few things at a time. This strategy keeps me fresh and allows me time to reflect on my research and writing.”
With a long history of scholarly writing that cover topics like gender issues in higher education, historically black colleges and universities, minority-serving institutions, charitable giving, teaching about race inside and outside the classroom, and best practices for historically black colleges and universities, Gasman collaborated in her most recent publishing ventures with an expert in the fine arts, a team of researchers from Pennsylvania to Maryland to Indiana to Texas and a pioneer in African-American medicine education.
“I enjoy writing institutional histories and uncovering the internal and external politics of a place,” Gasman says. “For one of the books, I was working directly with one of the key figures in the founding of the institution.”
For The Morehouse Mystique: Becoming a Doctor at the Nation’s Newest African-American Medical School, a history of the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, she teamed up with Louis W. Sullivan, the former U.S. secretary of health and human services and one of the founders of the Morehouse medical school.
“At first, I was worried that it might be difficult to get the former president to be honest about his role – both the positives and the negatives,” Gasman says. “However, he wanted to tell the story – warts and all, including his own missteps.”
The Morehouse School of Medicine was founded just after the civil rights era, and was designed to educate doctors who were underrepresented in predominantly white medical schools and who would practice in underserved communities.
“In the end, the book is more than an institutional history. It is a window into African-Americans and medical education in the United States,” she says.
The Morehouse Mystique will be published by Johns Hopkins University Press and is scheduled to appear on bookstore shelves in April.
For the second book, Gasman worked with Michael Scott Bieze, the chair of the fine arts department at The Marist School, to write Booker T. Washington Rediscovered, an examination of Booker T. Washington’s life, based on previously unpublished writings, hard-to-find speeches, essays and other primary documents from public and private collections.
“Most people know very little about him beyond his views on industrial education,” Gasman says. “In this book, we delve into his perspectives – using his own words, rather than the interpretation of others, on aesthetics, religion, politics, philanthropy, among other topics.”
Booker T. Washington Rediscovered looks at this historical figure as a turn-of-the-century pioneer in his own right, as opposed to previous works which compared his achievements with other African-American leaders like W.E.B. DuBois.
“This book offers an examination of Washington that we have not yet seen, depicting the many dimensions – be they altruistic or not, of a highly complex man,” Gasman says.
The book will be published by Johns Hopkins University Press and is scheduled to be in stores in June.
And for the third book, Gasman worked with a team of co-authors, including Penn’s Edward Epstein, associate director of community engagement for the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts and the Arthur Ross Gallery; Noah D. Drezner, a Penn alumnus and an assistant professor of higher education a the University of Maryland; Tyrone Freeman, an associate director of public service at the Fundraising School at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis; and Vida L. Avery, manager of resource development of the Texas Center for Grants Development at the Harris County (Texas) Department of Education to write Race, Gender and Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations.
“When reading the book, women and African-Americans immediately learn that they are not alone in their experiences and that there are strategies to overcome racism and sexism,” Gasman says. “Not only does the reader discover the inner-workings and politics of the nonprofit world, but he or she gains several road maps to success from the experiences of those interviewed for the book.”
Focusing on the lives and experiences of female and African-American leaders at foundations and non-profit organizations, the book explores race and gender.
“We looked very closely at the individual lives of foundation and nonprofit leaders, considering their gender and race and how these identities shaped their experiences,” Gasman says.
It also explores family influences, religion, spirituality, childhood experiences, challenges and educational impact and how these factors combine to contribute to the future leadership at foundations and other nonprofit organizations.
Race, Gender and Leadership was published by Palgrave MacMillan in November.
With an eye toward her future, Gasman’s currently working on a new book with Nelson Bowman III, director of development at Prairie View A&M University, The Essential Guide to Fundraising from Diverse College Alumni. Their newest writing project is touching on Gasman’s core research topics of philanthropy, race and fundraising, but this time it’s within the next context of majority institutions like Penn.
She’s also pursuing a large, grant-funded project focusing on degree attainment at minority-serving institutions. In a few years, this project will lead to another book, but for now she’s keeping busy with the research.
Her ultimate goal is to change perceptions about race in America.
“Writing books is a task I love,” Gasman says. “Sometimes people imply that it is a chore, but not for me. It is a passion.”