Administrator gains national fame

Stored away on the first floor in Coleman Library’s Media Center is an administrator who is working toward improving the lives of America’s black youth.

Only some students know of the accomplished woman who attempts to raise the bar in the educational system at the elementary and middle school levels.

But one author has set out to make her contributions known.

In September 2006, Dhyana Ziegler, Ph.D., was featured in John T. Barber’s “The Black Digital Elite.”

“Since the book’s release it has been a big hit,” said Pam Bryant, special assistant to the president.

Ziegler currently serves as the assistant vice president for instructional technology and academic affairs. She arrived at FAMU in 1997 after being chosen as the Garth C. Reaves Eminent Scholar Chair of Excellence in Journalism.

Of the 26 blacks featured in the book, Ziegler was the only woman.

“In most educational material on this subject, mostly featured are white American men,” Bryant said. “This book sheds light on African-American innovators.”

The author of the book said he chose the top black leaders in the nation based solely on their achievements in the technology field.

“The book is about African-American achievement in the field of digital technology, not about gender,” Barber said. “We need more teachers like her to ensure that African-Americans are not left behind in our rapidly changing technological society.”

The chapter of the book about Ziegler focuses on her helping young people to be creative in a digital world, eliminating the digital divide in Florida and preparing blacks for the information age. Her platform is to use technology as a tool for education and to raise consciousness.

“We as African-Americans must play a major role in the development of technology,” Ziegler said. “The information highway is an avenue for us to be entrepreneurs.”

She said the use of technology is a progressive way to motivate young people to learn.

“Technology is a great tool for us to engage young people in interactive programs,” Ziegler said.

Her theory is based on the prevalence of video games among youth and the interactivity they require from the youth.

“Use the same methodology; just change the content,” she concluded.

Barber applauded Ziegler’s theories.

“I think she is right when she says that you have start now with a group of very young kids and make software development a part of their growing up,” Barber said. “By the time they become mature, they will be among the digital masters of tomorrow.”

Being selected for the book is not Ziegler’s first honor for her contributions to technology.

She currently is an appointed member of the Board of Trustees for Florida Virtual Schools.

“Her work in Florida’s virtual institutions and teaching young people to use virtual reality to learn math and science is outstanding,” Barber said.

Ziegler is also an experienced journalist who serves as host and co-producer of “The Delta SEE Connection,” a national radio program geared toward improving the math and science skills of kindergarten through eighth grade black students.

It is sponsored by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

In 2006, she was ranked among the 100 Most Important Blacks by the Career Communications Group.

“In the field of education and technology, Dr. Ziegler is a visionary who sees the technological leaders of the future in the young black people of today,” Barber said.