Black Studies Program at the University of Iowa Looks to Regain Departmental Status

The African-American studies program at the University of Iowa was created 40 years ago in 1969. In 2004 the program lost its departmental status when only three faculty members remained, two short of the university’s requirement for departmental status. At the current time there are only 13 students majoring in African-American studies on a campus with an undergraduate student body of 21,000. About 2.4 percent of all undergraduates on campus are black.

Richard Turner, an associate professor of religious studies at the University of Iowa, is coordinator of the black studies program. He is following a plan to restore the program to departmental status. First, he is working on a new curriculum which will include an introductory course that will be open to a large number of students. Second, he is looking to boost the number of black studies faculty and staff. Finally, the goal is to establish a research center in a specific area of black studies that will attract both students and scholars to the university.