The American Studies Association today announced a new initiative to strengthen ties with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
The initiative offers nearly 100 colleges and universities complimentary institutional membership which, among other benefits, extends 10 free memberships in the association to undergraduate and graduate students and contingent or non-tenure stream faculty.
The initiative was brought forward through the National Council by Sharon Holland (UNC Chapel Hill), who highlighted the distinct need of HBCUs for cross-institutional partnerships and collaboration. “We often wonder,” said Holland, “what we could have done as an organization to raise a strong voice against the closing of Chicago State or the manufactured budget crisis at UNC Pembroke in North Carolina.”
“Knowing that these aren’t isolated cases, and that an uncertain future lies ahead given the reauthorization of the Higher Ed Act, we wanted to explore ways of building on-the-ground support. To do this, we first need to ensure that the institutional homes we inhabit as an association include intellectual and educational experiences outside predominantly white institutions (PWIs),” Holland added.
This outreach to HBCUs marks the first of several campaigns to expand membership among minority serving institutions (MSIs). Current president Kandice Chuh noted that “while people of color and indigenous scholars are active as members and in leadership roles, only 10% of HBCUs have members in the ASA. We hope this initiative will create a palpable shift that will be seen in future convenings of the association.”
Past president Robert Warrior added, “Many of our members are active in other associations. For scholars who travel across these organizations, the ASA often provides a ‘big tent’ for coming together to coordinate forms of support to sustain our many and varied institutional homes.”
The timing of the initiative coincides with the 2018 Annual Meeting, to be held November 8-11, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia—home to Spelman College, a leading HBCU and a top U.S. women’s college.
Incoming president Roderick Ferguson (a proud alumnus of Howard University) looks forward to the intersections provided by this year’s location. “While we’re still reviewing proposals, our work has long been underway to create jointly sponsored events with the National Association for Women’s Studies and the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art. The moment for this initiative couldn’t be better.”
Other events planned for the Atlanta meeting will include a non-PWI meet-up, to connect members old and new and contribute to future planning for the initiative.
For more information, read the formal letter of introduction and offer of membership.