Underscoring ongoing efforts by Wayne State University to increase diversity among its faculty, the university announced that it has hired 34 new tenured or tenure track faculty members this year, including 10 who are either African American or Latino/a. Moreover, half of the new faculty members are women, bringing the total portion of faculty who are from traditionally underrepresented groups to nearly 30 percent.
“Wayne State has always had a commitment to diversity and inclusion, and these wonderful additions to our faculty represent our determination to ensure that our campus remains a place where everyone is welcome to learn, to teach and to grow,” said WSU Provost Mark Kornbluh. “As I’ve often said, diversity is in our DNA here.”
The additions come on the heels of data published by the Chronicle of Higher Education that WSU, which boasts the state’s most diverse student body, also leads all public Michigan universities in the diversity of its doctoral faculty, with 32.1 percent identifying as members of an underrepresented group. Wayne State is the only public university in the state over 30 percent, partly the result of a three-year rise in Black doctoral faculty to nearly 8 percent. WSU also leads in the percentage of women doctoral faculty.
Among the biggest beneficiaries of this continued growth is the Department of African American Studies, which added three of the newly hired professors. In addition, the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies saw the addition of two new faculty members.
"The new hires make WSU more diverse, inclusive, and brilliant,” said Ollie Johnson, Ph.D., the chairperson of the Department of African American Studies, of the new hires in his department. “They challenge us to take the global Black community seriously. These young scholars believe in community engagement. They recognize that the emergence of the discipline of African American Studies was a response to demands from the campus and the community. We all benefit from a diverse community of scholars, students, and staff. Once again, Wayne State is leading the way."
Set to begin in August, the new hires in Johnson’s department include seasoned professors and experienced researchers:
- Charisse Burden-Stelly earned a Ph.D. in African Diaspora Studies from the University of California-Berkeley in 2016, a M.A. in African American Studies from the University of California-Berkeley in 2011, and a B.A. in African and African American Studies and Political Science from Arizona State University in 2009. Dr. Burden-Stelly has co-edited the book Organize, Fight, Win: Three Decades of Black Communist Women’s Political Writings with Jodi Dean and Reproducing Domination: On the Caribbean Postcolonial State with Aaron Kamugisha. She co-wrote the book W.E.B. DuBois: A Life in American History with Gerald Horn.
- Navid Farnia earned a Ph.D. in African American and African Studies from The Ohio State University in 2019, a M.A. in African American Studies from Columbia University in 2012, and a B.S. Communication Media Studies with a minor in Africana Studies from Cornell University in 2009. He also was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University and a Visiting Assistant Professor at Wake Forest University and Eastern Illinois University. Dr. Farnia is working on a manuscript tentatively titled National Liberation in an Imperialist World: Race and the Modern U.S. National Security State.
- Anwar Uhuru is a native Detroiter who earned their Ph.D. in English and Afro-Diasporic Studies from St. John’s University in 2018, a M.Ed. in English Education from the Teacher’s College at Columbia University in 2013, a M.A. in English and a B.A. in Dance and Humanities from Marygrove College in 2008 and 2005 respectively. Dr. Uhuru arrives from Monmouth University, where they were an Assistant Professor in the English Department and Affiliated Faculty in the Afro-Diaspora Studies Department and the Program in Gender and Intersectionality Studies. Their research interests include Black Existentialism, African American and Africana Philosophy, Atlantic Anglophone Literature, Africana Traditional Religions, Bio- Medical Ethics, Carceral Studies, Gender and Transgender Studies. Dr. Uhuru is completing their first manuscript tentatively titled The Insurrectionist Case for Reparations: Race, Value and Ethics with SUNY Press.
Meanwhile, the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies brought on two new faculty members this year, both of whom have done extensive scholarly research on Mexican history, politics and culture:
- Carlos R. Hernández joined the faculty of Wayne State University in Fall 2022 as an Assistant Professor in the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies with a joint appointment in the Department of History. A bilingual and binational scholar, Hernández maintains strong personal and professional ties to Mexico. He formerly served as the Joseph C. Fox Visiting Research Fellow at El Colegio de México in Mexico City, where he completed much of the research for his current book project, Paradise Lost: Beach Tourism, the Mexican State, and the Making of Cancún.
- Reyna Esquivel-King was born and raised in the Detroit metro region of the state of Michigan. She earned her B.A. from the University of Michigan and her M.A. from New York University. She completed her Ph.D. in history at the Ohio State University. Her interests are Latin American and Latinx history. She focused her doctoral research on Mexican film censorship history and its relationship to socio political issues of the Mexican Revolution.
The growth illustrates a significant rise in faculty members of color as the university continues to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. Between 2019 and 2021, WSU added a total of nine African Americans and two Latinos to its faculty.