April 8, 2010

Prof. Robert L. Harris Jr. Appointed Africana Center Director

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Prof. Robert L. Harris Jr., Africana studies, was named director of the Africana Studies and Research Center by Provost Kent Fuchs yesterday.

“The Africana Studies and Research Center has gained new vitality with renovation and expansion of our facility and the addition of outstanding faculty,” Harris told the University. “I look forward to working with students, alumni and colleagues to further anchor the Africana Center in the academic mission of Cornell.”

Harris also served as vice provost for diversity and faculty development from 2000 to 2008. An avid academic who has authored more than 50 journal articles and book chapters, his works include a co-authoring of The Columbia Guide to African-American History Since 1939. He currently also serves as the national historian for the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, and also writing a biography of Jerome Holland ’39, an All-American Big Red football player who went on to an illustrious career as a diplomat and educator.

Colleagues of Harris note his commitment to the study of Africana history and culture.

“He clearly understands the autonomity and integrity of Africana,” Prof. Ayele Bekerie, Africana Studies, said. “At the same time, he knows how to work with the administration. I would expect him not to lose sight of the interdisciplinary aspect of Africana.”

When his position becomes effective June 1, he will follow in the footsteps of Prof. Salah Hassan, Africana studies, who has held the position since 2005. During his tenure, Hassan has overseen major facilities renovations for the ASRC, in addition to building connections with African universities and expanding the Universities instruction in African languages.

Original Author: Brendan Doyle