Black Studies at Harvard Adds a Host of New Black Faculty

During the Lawrence Summers years at Harvard the university’s black studies department saw the departure of several high-profile black academics including Cornel West, Lawrence Bobo, K. Anthony Appiah, Michael Dawson, Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, and Marcyliena Morgan. Summers had no interest in black studies. His attitude was clear to all, and there was a serious erosion of Harvard’s best.

But Henry Louis Gates Jr., who is stepping down as chair of the department of African and African-American studies at the end of this academic year, has produced a flurry of hiring activity in recent weeks. The following four professors have been offered and have accepted tenured positions in the department:

In addition to these scholars, Claudine Gay, a black scholar with a master’s and Ph.D. from Harvard, is currently teaching at Stanford University. She has accepted a tenured post in Harvard’s department of government. It is likely that she will also teach in black studies.

Professor Gates is also negotiating to bring to Harvard Brent H. Edwards, an associate professor of English at Rutgers University, and Saidiya V. Hartman, an associate professor of English at the University of California at Berkeley.