James E. Turner, the founding director of Cornell's Africana Studies and Research Center, was reappointed to the post for a five-year term by the provost, effective July 1. A professor of Africana Studies whose first stint as director lasted 17 years, Turner is a political sociologist specializing in African-American social movements and is a leading expert on Malcolm X. Turner succeeds Professor Locksley Edmondson, who has directed the Africana Center for the past five years.
As director, Turner will oversee the center's academic activities, faculty and curricular development and fiscal planning. He also will continue teaching courses in the sociology and politics of the African-American community.
"One of my priorities will be to develop an endowed faculty position at the center," he said. "We've had a great history of development, but we don't have an endowed professorship. I also want to seriously explore the development of a Ph.D. program." Currently, Cornell offers bachelor's and master's degrees in Africana Studies.
The Africana Studies and Research Center has grown considerably since it was established in 1969 under Turner's leadership. One of the premier programs of its kind in the nation, the center focuses on the history, culture, literature, politics and intellectual development of people of African ancestry on the African continent, in the Caribbean and in North America.
"We've expanded from an initial offering of about 10 courses to over two dozen," Turner noted, adding that the center's program now attract students from all of the Cornell campus's schools and from beyond its -- and the nation's -- borders. "We have an established colloquia series that attracts people from as far away as Canada," he said.
The center also serves as a resource for the greater Ithaca community, offering a course for the past 10 years on multicultural education and curriculum for teachers in the Ithaca City School District.
Before coming to Cornell in 1969, Turner earned an undergraduate degree from Central Michigan University and his master's and doctoral degrees from Northwestern University and the Union Graduate School in Cincinnati, respectively.