Letter from the Department of Pan-African StudiesPosted Mar. 8, 2013
As you know, the Department of Pan-African Studies has a rich and profound history that dates back 40 years. As an established academic unit housed within the College of Arts and Sciences, the fundamental value of the Department of Pan-African Studies lies in being an intrinsically diverse academic discipline with its own theoretical and methodological approach. It has always viewed and will continue to view people of African descent at the center of their own historical and current experiences. Contrary to what you may have heard, there are no plans to change the status or name of the department, or to merge the department with another academic unit.
Like other departments and consistent with general university policies, line item budgeted faculty who leave are not automatically replaced without considering whether the new hires can increase enrollment. In the case of DPAS, curriculum enhancement is the most critical success factor in attracting and keeping students. As a department we are exploring various ways of increasing student enrollment in addition to offering dual degree programs with Public Health, Political Science, Journalism and Mass Communication, and the Arts. Additionally, with an eye to graduate studies the department is considering joint programs that lead to law school for example and a variety of other graduate programs.
Over the past decade the number of faculty in DPAS has remained relatively steady with an average of eight combined tenure and non-tenure track faculty (not including the department chair). On average 70% of faculty are tenure track and two-thirds are people of African descent. The department also enjoys great faculty longevity as many who were instrumental in establishing the strength of DPAS have remained.
As an academic unit, DPAS operates the same as other departments on the Responsibility Centered Model. All departments generate revenue based on enrollment. Fiscally, DPAS is responsible for balancing expenses to revenue. There is currently a $600,000 shortfall. While conscious of financial responsibilities, department leaders make every effort to ensure students receive a high quality academic experience. The department currently has 10 students who declared PAS as their major. Since 1999, the average number of students majoring in PAS has been 14 with a high of 22 students in 2010. On the other hand, many DPAS courses count as credit for the Kent Core. Enrollment in such courses as the Black Experience is robust with a little over 1400 students annually.
What is occurring is that using the central praxis of the National Council of Black Studies (the leading national organization for Black Studies), intellectual excellence and social responsibility, DPAS faculty is currently augmenting and pushing our curriculum to grow the department. In the last week, we have been warmed by the numerous testimonies that point to your valuable and enriching experience within the department. Many pointed to the attainment of skills that have augmented their post-graduate and life experience. As a department, we remain committed to continued enhancement in the areas of cultural competencies and diversity orientation, both of which are intellectually and fundamentally embedded in Pan-African Studies. These competencies ensure students’ competitiveness in the workplace.
Last, DPAS seeks to continue engaging with so many loyal alumni who have helped shape the department and influenced the campus environment for African American students. As well, we hope to develop more community engagement with essential cultural organizations.
Amoaba Gooden, PhD
Chair, Department of Pan-African Studies
Interim Dean, Colleges of Arts and Sciences