Open House welcomes faculty, fellows

Ben Cleary The Daily Illini Stephen Barnes, resident of Champaign, talks with professors Robin Jarrett (left) and Siobhan Somerville at the African American Studies & Research Program open house at Nevada and Goodwin in Urbana Thursday. Its community oriented, Somerville said, a chance to meet all the new people.

Ben Cleary The Daily Illini Stephen Barnes, resident of Champaign, talks with professors Robin Jarrett (left) and Siobhan Somerville at the African American Studies & Research Program open house at Nevada and Goodwin in Urbana Thursday. “It’s community oriented”, Somerville said, “a chance to meet all the new people.”

By Danielle Gaines

The African-American Studies and Research Program hosted their annual open house Thursday evening. The event, held at the African-American Studies building, 1201 W. Nevada St., drew students, faculty and staff from across campus.

“This event serves as an introduction to our new faculty and chancellors to the campus and the Champaign-Urbana communities,” said Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua, director of the African-American Studies and Research Program. “It is an annual time for fellowship.”

The African-American Studies program began in 1974. In the fall of 1988, the program introduced an interdisciplinary minor in African-American Studies. The program began hosting postdoctoral fellows in 1992.

Six new faculty members joined the program this year: Christopher Benson, Merle Bowen, Pedro Caban, Robin Jarrett, Marc Perry and Brendesha Tynes.

Adlai Murdoch, an associate professor in the French department, came to the event to reconnect with other faculty on campus.

“It is important for faculty who have not seen each other to reestablish links,” he said. “It is nice to see people who work in different departments as well as new faculty and students.”

Two new postdoctoral fellows were also introduced at the open house. Ruth Nicole Brown and Kersuze Simeon will work with campus staff for one year.

Those attending the open house were treated to food and information about the program. The African-American Studies program faculty and staff spoke about the discipline and their respective courses.

“This is a great networking event. It has given me the opportunity to meet with different professors from across the discipline, which will help me pick my classes next semester,” said Lauren Senter, a junior in LAS, who is pursuing her minor in African-American studies.

“We are a research and teaching unit on campus,” said Cha-Jua. “Our goal is to educate the campus and C-U communities on the interests and perspectives of African-Americans. We have an exciting program planned for the rest of the year, with many events,” he said.

The next event will be a lecture, “African-Americans and Latino-Americans in the 2004 Presidential Election,” on Oct. 18. Event schedules for the entire year are available at the African-American Studies building.