MVSU alum receives Anna Julia Cooper Teacher of the Year award

March 28, 2018

ITTA BENA, Miss— Mississippi Valley State University alumnus Dr. Emmitt Y. Riley III has a passion for teaching. His apparent love for mentorship and education are two of the reasons why the Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at DePauw University (Ind.), was recently awarded the 2018 Anna Julia Cooper Teacher of the Year Award.

The honor was bestowed on the Itta Bena native by the National Conference of Black Political Scientists during its 49th Annual Meeting in Chicago, Ill., March 16, for demonstrating excellence in teaching, advising and mentoring.

Riley was nominated by his students and Dr. Anne Harris, vice-president of Academic Affairs at Depauw University.

With earning the accomplishment, Riley attributes a great deal of his success to Mississippi Valley State University.

“One of the things that has shaped my teaching career has certainly been my experience at Mississippi Valley,” said Riley.  (At MVSU) I discovered my passion for wanting to go into academics as a professor.”

Riley, who graduated Magna Cum Laude from MVSU in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English as well as Political Science, shared how impactful MVSU professors were to his journey.

“My whole life, I have been surrounded by excellent teachers and the education I received here at Valley has been instrumental in setting me on the trajectory that I am on now in my career…For that, I am eternally grateful,” he said.

Riley earned a master’s degree in Political Science from Jackson State University in 2010 and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Mississippi with a specialization in American Politics and International Relations in 2014. 

Since arriving at DePauw University, he has taught a variety of courses, including: Introduction to Africana Studies, American Government, Legislative Politics, The American Presidency, Race Politics and Political Inequality. He is an affiliated faculty member with the Political Science Department and the Peace and Conflict Studies program

Before his appointment in the Africana Studies program, Riley was a visiting assistant professor in the Political Science Department at DePauw.  He has also served as an Instructor of Political Science at Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale, Miss. and as an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at MVSU.

Riley has published research and numerous articles in the areas of race, political representation, and racial resentment. His research has been presented at several national, regional, and international academic conferences.

Riley is a member of several professional organizations such as the National Conference of Black Political Scientists, Southern Political Science Association, and the American Political Science Association. He is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

In 2015, he was recognized as one of Greenwood’s Top 30 Under 40 by the Greenwood Commonwealth newspaper.