The University Board of Trustees voted to create a new department for African American studies, the University announced on Tuesday.
The department will be created on July 1.
The decision came shortly after heated controversy on campus surrounding misappropriation of cultures and racial tensions on campus. In the 2013-14 academic year, the Trustee Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity released a report finding that whites and males dominate the composition of the faculty.
According to interim University director of communications Daniel Day, Eddie Glaude Jr., the current chair of African American studies and the William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies, will head the new department.
Students will be able to pursue concentrations in African American studies beginning next fall, including tracks in African American culture and life, global race and ethnicity, as well as race and public policy, all three of which were previously offered through the Center for African American Studies.
Glaude said he envisions hiring new faculty to stimulate growth for the newborn department. Particularly, Glaude said the department seeks to welcome more faculty who specialize in studies of Caribbean and black Atlantic cultures in the subfield of global race and ethnicity.
In addition, Glaude said he hopes for the department to stabilize funding for its post-doctoral scholars, whom Glaude explained have made major contributions in the past decade.
“We will continue to grow,” Glaude said. “We will continue to build our community by inviting more folks to join our table.”
Glaude further noted that blueprints for the center to departmentalize have been in place since its creation in 2006. Hiring faculty to sustain the major has been an essential element of the equation that was gradually realized. There is no causality between the student protests the past school year and the birth of the department, Glaude said.
“It happens that there’s a convergence between what we’ve been doing on ground with African American studies and this moment on campus,” Glaude said. “I think it reflects how appropriate this decision is for the moment. I don’t think there is a better time to do it then now.”
The Daily Princetonian reported in February 2013 that the Center for African American Studies was undergoing an external review, which the 'Prince' noted was a potential step to creating an African American studies major.
Glaude said he foresees his department remaining relatively small to medium in size in terms of student enrollment. The option to pursue a certificate in the discipline still remains.
Prior to its establishment as a department, the Center for African American Studies, launched in 2006 by president emeritus Shirley Tilghman, allows students to pursue certificates following the completion of interdisciplinary coursework in literature and public policy. Outgoing Dean of the College Valerie Smith served as the founding director of the center.