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The following went out as an email today from the Office of the Provost:

To the College Community:

We write to update you on the initiative to establish a Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity at Carr Hall. As you may know, Shirley Ramirez convened a faculty working group in the Fall of 2007 to examine key recommendations stemming from the 2006 Human Relations Committee report. The working group considered: 1) faculty diversity and development; 2) diversity and the curriculum; and 3) the development of a new academic center at Carr Hall. The group focused especially on this last project because of the center’s potential to highlight diversity goals for the entire community. By the end of the 2007-2008 academic year, the group succeeded in articulating a focus and mission for the new center.

The new center will be connected to the Office for Institutional Planning and Diversity, and will provide a forum for the community to address issues of difference in a broadly interdisciplinary manner. For instance, one goal of the center is to provide a global context for the study of race and ethnicity. To that end, the center will be home to colleagues from a variety of fields, with domestic and international teaching/research interests in race and ethnicity. We are excited by the possibilities that this venture holds, and are pleased that the Mellon Foundation has awarded the College a $1.2 million grant, which will support programming at the Center and the hiring of new faculty.

We have recently begun a search for a faculty member in American Studies to direct the Center. We expect this search to be completed this spring, and a new director to be in place by the fall of 2009. Beginning this semester, the faculty working group that worked so hard last year to develop a mission and focus for the Center gave way to a smaller steering committee that includes Michael Newbury (American Studies), Rachael Joo (American Studies), Laurie Essig (SOAN/WAGS), and Hector Vila (CTLR). The committee will work closely with the new Vice President for Institutional Planning and Diversity and the Provost’s office to ensure the successful development of the Center; it will also be involved in the search for the director.

Several faculty members have already moved into Carr Hall in this first phase of the Center’s development: Larry Hamberlin (Music), Laurie Essig, Hector Vila, and Linda White (East Asian Studies/WAGS). Gloria Gonzalez (Spanish) and Sujata Moorti (WAGS) will join them next year. The office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), now located in Carr Hall, will enhance the global dimensions of the Center’s work.

Shirley will continue to play an active role in this project until she leaves the College in December, and the Provost’s office will provide administrative support for the initiative until Shirley’s successor is on board.

In the spring of 2006, the Human Relations Committee recommended that the College establish an intercultural center to promote the study of diversity issues and complement the residential program of PALANA, the academic interest house now located on Adirondack View. More than two years later, we are close to realizing this goal and to enhancing the attention we give to a subject of undeniable national and international significance.

If you would like to be involved in the planning for the Center at Carr Hall, please feel free to contact the steering committee, or one of us.


Tim Spears and Shirley Ramirez

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