Greetings from Department Head
I am excited that I have been offered the opportunity to serve as Head of the Department of African American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. I have spent the past three months getting to know the institution, faculty, staff, students, and community residents. Hardly a week has passed when I have not learned something that adds to my sense of the many great possibilities that exist here.
As did many programs which emerged in the wake of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign originated in 1969. In June 2008, almost forty years later, the African American Studies Program became the Department of African American Studies, and students began enrolling in the major.
There are already exciting new developments for 2012-2013 and beyond. Three new faculty joined AFRO this semester, and we have been authorized to conduct two searches which are now underway, one for a scholar in theory and/or politics or economics, and one in health and wellness. Several other departments also have African American Studies searches. We will continue the discussions which we hope will lead to a graduate program, both at the Masters and Doctoral levels.
Our programs this Spring will include our three annual lectures named for Malcolm X, Ida B. Wells, and W.E.B. Dubois. Additionally, exciting campus activities are planned for January and February to commemorate and explore the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. With the recent Affirmative Action hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court, this is a time to re-dedicate ourselves to realizing the Black Studies twin mission : “Academic Excellence and Social Responsibility.”
Thank you for your support, and your willingness to share your activities and ideas about African American Studies and its possibilities. The University of Illinois is one of the finest universities in the U.S. I look forward to the collaboration and hard work ahead to continue to build AFRO and make this Department one of the most productive and widely recognized in the U.S.
Ronald W. Bailey, Ph.D.
Professor and Head