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University of Iowa News Release

June 6, 2005

UI Committed To Revitalizing African American Studies

Linda Maxson, dean of the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said the college will begin this fall the process of revitalizing African American studies and increasing its role on campus.

A faculty advisory committee has been working since Summer 2004 to explore "how to achieve a visible, vital presence in African American studies in order to meet the needs of the university's students and faculty and to promote academic vitality and diversity on our campus."

The committee was formed after the former Department of African American World Studies became a program following the resignation of several faculty members. In the last year, the committee has collected information about African American studies programs at a range of institutions and has met with various constituency groups including students and faculty in the program, faculty whose courses are cross-listed in the program, administrators, student groups and the chair of the UI African American Council.

Maxson said she will work with the college's executive committee to begin implementing the advisory committee's recommendation that African American studies grow and attain department status.

"These recommendations are thoughtful, positive, forward-looking and creative, and I look forward to working with our faculty as well as with Provost Hogan to strengthen and reaffirm our commitment to African American Studies on campus," she said.

The first step will be to invite faculty with relevant teaching and research interests to consider affiliating with African American studies while retaining primary appointments in their current departments. Those invitations will be sent in the fall, Maxson said. The process of establishing a new department of African American studies is expected to take at least three years including a number of searches for faculty who could be jointly appointed in African American Studies and existing departments.

The committee also recommended establishing a post-doctoral program and an annual visiting professorship to enhance intellectual vitality and draw top scholars in the field to the UI.

Finally, the committee recommended the creation of a new center for the in-depth study of a topic in African American studies. The committee noted that the selection of a topic would fall to interested faculty in the department, but suggested that a Center for Midwestern African American Life and Culture would capitalize on the university's location at the crossroads between major urban centers of the Midwest including Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis, and Minneapolis.

UI Executive Vice President and Provost Michael Hogan applauded the committee for outlining a comprehensive plan and said the university would not falter in its commitment to diversity.

"We are educating a student population that is going to live and work and find its success in a much more diverse and global community," Hogan said. "If we're going to succeed in that endeavor we need a more diverse campus culture."

The full committee report is online,

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT(S): Media: Steve Parrott,, 319-335-0552; Writer: Mary Geraghty Kenyon