This week’s feature is with Dr. Isiah D. Brown IV. Isiah is the oldest child of Isiah David III and Carolyn F. Brown.
Both parents are retired but still work. “My father is a retired staff accountant. He currently works with the city of Savannah and Chatham County public schools. My mother also a retired teacher. She taught for about 30 years at Pearl Smith, Richard Arnold, Jenkins, Savannah High, Beach and Groves but works as a substitute now.” Isiah is a Savannah native who grew up on 34th and Ash Street. He says he spent time between Savannah and Bluffton, South Carolina as a youth, since both his parents are from Bluffton. He has a younger sister, India D. Brown. Like many, he said he started participating in sports at an early age. “I started playing football, baseball, soccer and basketball at the age of five,” he said. It also helped that his parents were former athletes. His father played multiple sports at Bluffton High and went on to play football at Morehouse College before a injury cut short his career as a sophomore. He received his undergraduate degree in accounting. His mother also attended Bluffton High where she played basketball. She attended Clark Atlanta where she graduated with a degree in Business Education. Growing up Isiah says he played for the Patriots organization as well as Liberty City, the Bluejays and the Cardinals in local Pop Warner programs. Isiah attended Cathedral Day Catholic School (now known as Notre Dame Academy) and later went to Beach High School where he was a three-sport athlete (football, baseball and soccer). He lists Ulysses Hawthorne, Ronald Booker, Cordie Wright, Robert Lambert, Utaff Gordon, Fred Reynolds, Brian Simon, Rick Bond, Abro Williams, James German and Charlie Smith as some of his high school mentors. When asked about some of his memorable moments in a Bulldog uniform he said that setting the school record with a game-winning 45 yard field goal against Jenkins, making 23 tackles against Savannah High school as a junior and beating Camden County 30-0 for homecoming in 1994.
He admits that he did not have college scouts beating down his door but he did draw interest from Savannah State, Fort Valley State and Virginia Union. He ended up attending SSU on a football scholarship. “Coach Irvin Clark came to see me at Beach High School by way of Joe Crosby.” He says the decision to stay at home was a easy one and he has no regrets. “I wanted to stay close to home and attending Savannah State University was the best thing that happened to me.”
While attending SSU, Isiah continues to participate in athletics. (football, baseball and track). Among his highlights of attending the college by the sea, Isiah says was earning his undergraduate and graduate degrees. He also shared some of his athletic memories. “I made the travel team my freshman year in football by playing special teams. In baseball, I started at third base and played catcher.. I was fortunate enough to earn four SIAC Championships rings. During that span, we were the first SSU team to compete in the NCAA Division II championships. In the year 2000, we set the national record for consecutive victories. We finished the year 46 – 3.”
Isiah earned a business management degree at Savannah State as well as a master of public administration degree. Afterwards he earned his PhD from Florida A&M in Educational Administration with a focus in Leadership. He wanted to go into the k-12 educational field like his mother but a conversation with former SSU president Carlton Brown inspired him to go the extra mile in higher education.
“As a young black male coming from Savannah, I know how furthering my education beyond high school changed my life and gave me hope. I ultimately wanted to teach and be a principal at one of the high schools. I thought at one time in my life this would get me closer to coaching the sports I played in high school. After meeting Dr. Carlton Brown, my reality evolved and I now had aspirations of being a president of a college. Upon my first graduation from SSU, I asked Dr. Brown, what I had to do to have his job. He replied with that smile and said “Brown, you gotta get your union card”. Not understanding the cliché at the time, he simply meant, doctoral degree. This sparked my inspiration for going into the field of education. I had great teachers and mentors at Beach High, SSU and FAMU. All have which taught me how to be open minded and appreciative of diversity of thought and multiple perspectives, just thinking outside the box.”
These days, Isiah is a visiting assistant professor of management in the school of business at the State University of New York Oswego, a position he has had since 2016. “President Deborah F. Stanley recently appointed me to serve the School of Business, as SUNY Oswego’s inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Fellow. I will be working closely with Dr. Jerald Woolfolk, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management and interim chief diversity and inclusion officer, and Howard Gordon, executive assistant to the president as SUNY Oswego continues the implementation of its Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Plan. I will have the opportunity to further develop a deep understanding of the complexity and multiple dimensions of diversity, inclusion and equity, including, but not limited to age, class, culture, disability, ethnicity, gender, nationality, race, religion, sexual identity, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status,” he adds.
Prior to his time at SUNY Oswego, Isiah served in various positions at the University of Houston Downtown (Director, Assurance of Learning and Assessment and adjunct instructor, college of business), Texas Southern University (Executive director, Urban Academic Village, adjunct instructor) Our Lady of the Lake University, (Houston- Campus Director, Weekend College Program) and Florida A&M University (Assistant Director, Teacher for a New Era; Title III: Program Coordinator, Teacher Education and Certification). He also served as an NCATE Assessment Analyst, Office Manager, and research assistant all in the college of education. Isiah started working with FAMU in 2004 upon his acceptance into the doctoral program. He also worked for Lutheran Services, Mr. Delites – Hot dog vending, UPS, Kroger, Kenny’s, Heiman and Son’s and the Garden City Leisure Service Bureau before leaving Savannah.
Isiah is married to Atlanta native Dr. Daria J. Willis who is the Provost and Senior Vice President at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, NY. The couple met at FAMU in 2006 and have been married since 2011. They have two sons and a daughter. Malachi Fernando Rivers (18), Lyric Yvonne Joseph (13), and Isiah David Brown V (5).