The Afro-American Studies Program, which has been without a permanent director for more than two years, should have a new head by the end of the semester. Under the new leadership, the program is expected to have a greater academic bent. In the past, administrators have split their time between intellectual and cultural programming. Provost Michael Aiken is expected to announce Associate Folklore Professor John Roberts -- who served as acting director for two years -- as the new program director. Roberts will replace former director Jacqueline Wade, who took temporary leave from the University two years ago to go to Bennett College. Wade, who administrated the program but was not on the AFAMS faculty, has decided she will not return to the University. Roberts, who is on sabbatical this school year, is expected to take over the program next September. Currently, Associate Law Professor Ralph Smith is the acting director. Wade left Bennett this semester to become the executive director of the National Council for Black Studies at Ohio State University. The Council, a center for black studies scholars, organizes black studies curricula across the nation, Wade said. While at Bennett, Wade founded the Women's Research Training and Development Center, an organization which supports research on black women. The former program director said she initially left the University because she always wanted an appointment at a historically black women's college such as Bennett. Her leave of absence became permanent when she accepted the position at Ohio. Wade and program professors said they are pleased that Roberts will become the director. Many said they think it is time for a faculty member to lead AFAMS. "We find that [AFAMS] works better with a faculty director," Associate History Professor Robert Engs said this week. "We felt that in some ways the program got too broad, that it was in danger of losing its academic focus." The goals set when Wade was hired -- increasing student enrollment, increasing the number of courses and developing a full curriculum -- have been successfully met, he said. Now the program can concentrate on academics, he added. Smith said he agreed to act as AFAMS director in Roberts' absence "on the condition that John Roberts be named permanent director early in the school year." Roberts said he enjoyed his two years as AFAMS acting director and is looking forward to resuming his duties next fall. Roberts, who also served as undergraduate Folklore chairperson last year, said he will continue to teach. Smith said in the next few years the AFAMS program will concentrate on curriculum and teaching, continued involvement in student leadership and organizations and a renewed commitment to the issue of students' academic performance. The program will decrease its involvement in events such as the Martin Luther King, Jr. commemoration in February. The overall mission of the program is to produce a pool of applicants for graduate school, Smith said. The 18 year-old program has grown significantly in the past six years as enrollment in AFAMS classes has doubled. Yet many AFAMS faculty members said they do not want the growing discipline to become a department at the University. They said AFAMS' program status has several advantages such as allowing black faculty members to be spread throughout the University instead of being concentrated only in AFAMS. "On this campus we feel that having a transcendental approach to intelligent legitimacy provides for the diffusion of black faculty members," Smith said. "We are able to be more responsive to the realities of campus." Associate History Professor Engs said in its current position AFAMS can "use the resources of all the faculty at the University." Smith also said that as a program, AFAMS is able to allot money for black cultural programs and organizations.Comments powered by Disqus
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