Program receives approval to become department

By Michael Logli

What was once a program became a department.

The African American Studies and Research Program became a full-fledged department after approval at the Urbana-Champaign Senate meeting March 31.

Though the change increases the legitimacy of the new department, Acting Director Jennifer Hamer said that she believes the change is nothing but a formality.

The real task at hand is getting African American Studies approved as a major, Hamer said.

“Besides changing the letterhead, it’s really just a name change,” Hamer said.

The Board of Trustees and the U-C Senate supported the major, and it currently awaits approval from the Illinois Board of Higher Education, which should take place in June.

After the impending approval, the new major will be offered during the 2008 fall semester.

Hamer said the new major has already generated a lot of excitement, and she has received over 80 calls and e-mails asking when it will begin.

The classes for the major already exist, and if previously taken will count toward the major.

The problem, Hamer said, was not having an official area of study to apply these credits to.

Hamer also said she hopes to see many new double-major opportunities develop with other programs such as political science and journalism.

The department is expecting a good start in terms of numbers as well.

“It would be great if we started it at 20,” Hamer said.

“We’ve gotten a lot of phone calls about it.”