Professor Eddie Glaude GS ’97 will step down as chair of the Department of African American Studies (AAS). He has held the role since AAS was converted from a certificate program to a department in the summer of 2015.
“It’s just time,” Glaude said in an interview with The Daily Princetonian. “It’s time for a new leader, younger energy.”
Glaude’s announcement comes at a time of change in the AAS department. Next year, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, who was a professor of AAS at Princeton for seven years before taking a position at Northwestern University in 2022, will be returning to the department. Additionally, Professor Imani Perry will be joining faculty in Harvard University’s African American Studies Department. Perry and Taylor did not respond to requests for an interview.
Glaude, Perry, and Taylor are three of the most prominent professors affiliated with the AAS department. Taylor got a Macarthur “Genius” Grant in 2021, and Perry is a columnist for The Atlantic.
Glaude will remain at the University and shared plans to return “full time” to research and carry out other responsibilities, including “trying to help the nation imagine itself differently when it comes to race matters,” he said.
Glaude’s replacement as department chair has yet to be determined and will be selected by the Dean of the Faculty, Gene Jarrett ’97.
In recent years, Glaude’s classes have included AAS 230: The Fire This Time — Reading James Baldwin, which focuses on James Baldwin, and AAS 201: African American Studies and the Philosophy of Race. He has also overseen the independent work of several AAS majors.
Kiara Gilbert ’21 spoke to her experience with the department under Glaude’s leadership. Gilbert had Glaude as her junior paper and senior thesis advisor.
“As a student, as a scholar, as a Black student, as an FLI [first-generation, low-income] student, it was everything that I needed for it to be,” she said. “I know that AAS is going to be going on to … continuously better and bigger things.”
Glaude has also been present for a number of crucial moments for AAS at the University. He received a Ph.D. in religion from the University and joined the faculty in 2002 in the Department of Religion.
At the time, AAS at Princeton looked very different. The program was established in 1969 as a certificate program. In the 1980s, however, the program made several high-profile appointments, including John Jemmott, Toni Morrison, Cornel West, and Nell Painter, all of whom helped shape the program.
“It was just an extraordinary time,” Glaude said.
However, as a certificate program instead of a department, AAS did not have the authority to hire its own faculty.
“You had to go to other departments and try to convince them to hire folks,” said Glaude. “We didn’t have the ability to reconstitute ourselves in a way that reflected the complexity, the intellectual gravity of the field.”
The program eventually began to advance administratively in 2006, when it became the Center for African American Studies, a move that allowed it to double the size of its faculty. Glaude was named chair in 2009.
In 2015, the Board of Trustees voted to make AAS a University department, allowing it to become a concentration (now referred to as a major). This move came relatively late compared to some of the University’s peer institutions: Harvard’s first class of AAS concentrators graduated in 1972, and AAS became a department at Yale in 2000.
The University’s first class of AAS concentrators, composed of 10 students, graduated in 2018. From this class through 2020, a total 22 students have graduated with a concentration in African American Studies. This is in addition to the 1,121 students who have received certificates in AAS from 1972–2020.
Currently, the department is home to six full-time professors and eight jointly-appointed faculty members. In addition, according to Glaude, “all except one,” have received tenure.
Glaude expressed hope for an expansion of the department’s faculty in years to come. He highlighted Caribbean studies, performance studies, and environmental policy as potential areas for growth.
Miriam Waldvogel is an assistant news editor for the ‘Prince.’
Luis Guaman is a news contributor for the ‘Prince.’
Kelly Kim is a news contributor for the ‘Prince.’
Please direct any corrections requests to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.