SUNY Cortland Restores Departmental Status to Black Studies

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, student protests resulted in the establishment of black studies programs at colleges and universities throughout the United States. At the State University of New York at Cortland, the black studies department was founded in 1971 but disbanded only four years later in 1975. The university maintained a black studies program and students could major in the subject. But the black studies program lost the prestige, funding, and ability to hire faculty that comes with departmental status.

Now more than 30 years later, SUNY Cortland has restored its black studies department. Seth N. Asumah, a native of Ghana and professor of political science, was named chair of the new department. Now an American citizen, Asumah has served on the university’s faculty for 18 years. He is a graduate of the State University of New York at Oneonta and holds a master’s degree in public administration and a Ph.D. in government and international relations from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Blacks make up less than 3 percent of the student body at SUNY Cortland.