Jervette R. Ward, an associate professor of English at Mississippi State University, has been chosen to lead the College Language Association. Dr. Ward will serve a two-year term as vice president. She will then become president of the association in 2022.
The national organization is devoted to serving the academic, scholarly, and professional interests of African Americans in the collegiate community. It was founded in 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee, by a group of English professors at historically Black colleges and universities who wanted to improve student writing and opportunities. Today, the College Language Association is comprised of English and world language educators and publishes scholarly books of critical essays and bibliographical references.
Dr. Ward also is a member of the Modern Language Association, the largest and most prominent organization for teachers of English, where she serves as secretary for the MLA Languages, Literatures, and Cultures’ African American Literature Forum.
“Like many organizations, MLA was segregated in its early years and when I joined CLA I was told that one of the other reasons we exist is because MLA would not allow Black professors to join in its early days,” Dr. Ward said. “The glaring whiteness of MLA is easily visible at each MLA Convention that I attend. I value and appreciate MLA for its work, yet CLA is where I feel at home as a Black scholar. CLA and MLA are now affiliated organizations, and we work together on various initiatives. I am honored that I am able to serve my field of study in both of these organizations.”
Dr. Ward is the editor of Real Sister: Stereotypes, Respectability, and Black Women in Reality TV (Rutgers University Press, 2015). She joined the faculty at Mississippi State University in 2018 after teaching at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Dr. Ward holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Memphis.