Symposium to discuss African-American academic issues

by Michael O. Garvey

A symposium on “African-Americans in the Academy” will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday (March 25) in the auditorium of the University of Notre Dame’s Eck Visitors’ Center.p. The symposium is sponsored by the University’s African and African-American Studies Program as the first in an annual series memorializing Erskine A. Peters, professor of English at Notre Dame, who died in 1998. Participants will discuss issues of concern to African-American students, faculty and administrators on college and university campuses, particularly the relationship between African-American studies programs and their surrounding communities.

Participants will include Richard Pierce, Carl E. Koch Assistant Professor of History and associate director of African and African-American studies; Rhonda Brown, director of the Office of Institutional Equality; and Donald Pope-Davis, professor of psychology, associate vice president and associate dean of the Graduate School.

Also included are the 2003-04 Erskine A. Peters Fellows: Jessica Wormley of Fordham University, Brandi C. Brimmer of the University of California at Los Angeles, Sherwin K. Bryant of Ohio State University, Paul A. Minifee of the University of Texas, Austin and Dorian T. Warren of Yale University. The Erskine A. Peters Dissertation Year Fellowship was established in 1999 to enable outstanding African-American doctoral candidates in the humanities, social sciences and theological disciplines to experience life at Notre Dame while devoting their full energies to the completion of their dissertations.

Peters, who was 49 years old when he died, joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1987, having previously taught for 11 years at the University of California at Berkeley, where he had served terms as chairperson of Afro-American studies and dean of the College of Letters and Science. A specialist in American and Afro-American literature, he was well regarded as a teacher and compassionate advocate.

The symposium will be preceded by a reception at 6 p.m. in the Eck Center. Both events are free and open to the public.

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