University of Chicago Appoints Five Black Scholars to Named Professorships

Twenty-three University of Chicago faculty members have received named professorships or have been appointed distinguished service professors. Five of these appointments went to Black scholars.

Melissa L. Gilliam has been named the Ellen H. Block Distinguished Service Professor of Health Justice in the departments of obstetrics and gynecology and pediatrics. Her clinical focus is in pediatric and adolescent gynecology and family planning. She has served as vice provost at the university since 2016. Dr. Gilliam is a graduate of Yale University, where she majored in English. She earned a master’s degree at the University of Oxford in England and a medical degree at Harvard University. Dr. Gilliam also holds a master of public health degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Selwyn O. Rogers has been named the inaugural James E. Bowman Jr. Professor in the Biological Sciences in the department of medicine. This new professorship honors Dr. Bowman, a distinguished faculty member in the department of pathology and the first African American to earn tenure in the Biological Sciences Division. Dr. Rogers holds a bachelor’s degree and a medical degree from Harvard University. He earned a master of public health degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Salikoko S. Mufwene has been named the Edward Carson Waller Distinguished Service Professor in the department of linguistics. He focuses on the phylogenetic emergence of language and how languages have been affected by colonization and worldwide globalization. He is the author of  The Ecology of Language Evolution (Cambridge University Press, 2003). A native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Dr. Mufwene joined the faculty at the University of Chicago in 1991 after teaching at the University of Georgia. He is a graduate of the National University of Zaire and holds a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Chicago.

Margaret Beale Spencer has been named the Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor in the department of comparative human development. Professor Spencer examines life course experiences of diverse individuals across socio-economic contexts. She joined the University of Chicago faculty in 2009. Earlier, Dr. Spencer was the Board of Overseers Professor and director of the Interdisciplinary Studies of Human Development Program in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. She holds a Ph.D. in child and developmental psychology from the University of Chicago.

Herschella G. Conyers has been named the inaugural  Lillian E. Kraemer Clinical Professor in Public Interest Law. She also serves as the director of the Law School’s Criminal and Juvenile Justice Clinic. Before joining the Law School, Professor Conyers served as an assistant public defender, supervisor, and deputy chief in the Office of the Cook County Public Defender in Chicago. Professor Conyers holds a bachelor’s degree and a juris doctorate from the University of Chicago.


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