The Academic Senate at the University of California at Los Angeles is considering a proposal to transform the university’s African American studies program into an academic department. The program has originally established in 1974. If the program became a department, Black studies could recruit its own faculty, expand partnerships with other academic entities, and possibly develop a doctoral program in the field.
Mark Sawyer, chair of the program and professor of African-American studies and political science at UCLA said that creating the new department “would send a clear signal to the African-American community in California and the nation that UCLA values and supports African-American scholarship and that we want to create the best possible conditions for educating our citizens — and not only those of African-American descent — on the history and culture of the African-American community in the United States and beyond.” Dr. Sawyer is a graduate of the University of Illinois. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago.
The effort to create a new academic department has the support of UCLA chancellor Gene Block, who said, “The Interdepartmental Program in Afro-American Studies is a model of collaboration and innovative curriculum that reflects UCLA’s commitment to robust scholarship and teaching. Elevating the program to a full academic department would facilitate its growth in further service to both our students and to society.”