Rebuilding a Department, Af-Am Hires New Faculty

Evelynn Hammonds joins Af-Am, as fourth black woman to receive tenure within FAS

From Turmoil to Opportunity

With three new hires and a goal of attracting five more in the next two years, transition is the buzzword in the Afro-American studies department, says Gates.

Hammonds, Professor of Government and Afro-American Studies Michael C. Dawson and Carpio, an assistant professor of English and Afro-American studies, all joined the Faculty this fall.

Gates says their arrivals, coupled with the decision of all four admitted doctoral candidates to attend Harvard, was reassuring, given the turmoil that accompanied the departures of West and Appiah.

According to Gates and to faculty and students within the department, a serious attempt to build upon these successful hirings is underway. He says that the Afro-American studies department created an informal committee to compile a wish list of appointees. Gates hopes to propose new appointments before the end of the year.


“There is a strong commitment to maintain the level of excellence that [West and Appiah] represented and that the department has had in the past,” Dawson says. He adds the department has an “interest in hiring at all ranks.”

Members of the department agree that Afro-American studies, though saddened by the loss of West and Appiah, is moving in a positive direction.

“It’s a loss for the department, but I don’t feel like it’s the end of the world,” says Afro-American studies concentrator Laney P. McClain ’03 says. “Of course, it probably would have been better it they had stayed, but there are still a lot of good professors.”

Gates, who has said he is undecided about whether he will remain at Harvard after this year, is nevertheless adamant about the continued superiority of Harvard’s Afro-American studies department.

“With transition and trauma come opportunity. Despite the departures of Anthony and Cornel, Afro-American studies at Harvard remains number one and will continue to do so,” he says.

—Staff writer Divya A. Mani can be reached at