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Dear Department Chair

Letters from Black Women Leaders to the Next Generation

edited by Stephanie Y. Evans, Stephanie Shonekan, and Stephanie G. Adamsforeword by Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole

Education, African American Studies, Women's Studies

Published: September 2023
ISBN: 9780814350744
Pages: 200 Size: 5 x 8
Published: September 2023
ISBN: 9780814350751
Pages: 200 Size: EPUB

Practical and candid, this book offers actionable steps to help Black women leaders create meaningful success. The reflections and recommendations of the contributors forge a critical and transformative analysis of race, gender, and higher education leadership. With insights from humanities, social sciences, art, and STEM, this essential resource helps to redefine the academy to meet the challenges of the future. Dear Department Chair is comprised of personal letters from prominent Black women department chairs, deans, vice provosts, and university presidents, addressed to current and future Black women academic professionals, and offers a rich source of peer mentorship and professional development. These letters emerged from Chair at the Table, a research collective and peer-mentoring network of current and former Black women department chairs at colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada. The collective’s works, including this volume, serve as tools for faculty interested in administration, current chairs seeking mentorship, and upper-level administrators working to diversify their ranks.

Stephanie Y. Evans, PhD , is Full Professor in the Institute for Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and affiliate faculty of the Department of Africana Studies at Georgia State University. She served twelve consecutive years as department chair, from 2010–22. Her research and previously published works focus on Black women’s intellectual history, memoirs, and mental health. She is the founder and co-chair of the Chair at the Table peer mentoring research collective. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Stephanie G. Adams, PhD , is Dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Texas at Dallas and served as President of the American Society for Engineering Education in 2019–20. Her research in broadening participation, team effectiveness, and quality control have been funded by the National Science Foundation for almost two decades and has been published widely in related scholarly journals. She lives in Plano, Texas.Stephanie Shonekan, PhD , is Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities and Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her research and publications investigate race, identity, African American music, and movements of resistance. She was a founding co-director of the Michael A. Middleton Center for Race, Citizenship, and Justice at the University of Missouri, Columbia. She lives in College Park, Maryland.Johnnetta Betsch Cole, PhD , became Spelman College’s seventh president in 1987, and the first Black woman to lead this college founded specifically for the education of women of African descent. Later, after serving as president of Bennett College in North Carolina from 2002–7, she retired and continued to serve as chair of the Johnnetta Betsch Cole Global Diversity and Inclusion Institute in Atlanta. She has been the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art since 2009.

Contributors Include:
Stephanie Adams, Stephanie Evans, Tiffany Gilbert, Carol Henderson, Regine Jean-Charles, Eunice Jeffries, Julia S. Jordan-Zachery, Sandra Jowers-Barber, April C E. Langley, Janaka Lewis, Theresa Rajack-Talley, Stephanie Shonekan, Colette Taylor

Exemplifying a key maxim in Black women’s survival and achievement, ‘lifting as we climb,’ this collection demonstrates to sister-scholar administrators and their non-Black colleagues that collaboration, commiseration, and celebration are strategic tools, meaningful service, and sources of strength for Black women leaders in higher education today. These thought-provoking essays are essential reading for all who seek to create academic excellence that is both inclusive and humane.

– Bonnie Thornton Dill, University of Maryland

While there are many books about academic administrators, this unique and inspirational volume is the very first to center the perspectives and experiences of Black women leaders in academia. Desperately needed and long overdue, it is full of sage advice and concrete strategies for success, encouraging self-reflection, wellness, and humility; and emphasizing sisterhood, peer mentorship, and collaboration. It should be required reading for all academic leaders!

– Yolanda Covington-Ward, professor and Chair, W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Indeed, this important collection gives voice to a truth known to some but ignored by too many: If you look closely, Black women leaders are either present or in the process of being made. A must read for upper administrators, mentors, allies, and leaders in the making.

– Tara T. Green, PhD, Chair and CLASS Distinguished Professor of African American Studies, University of Houston

Dear Department Chair is a welcomed collection that builds on the tradition of ‘lifting as we climb.’ Kudos to the editors who took it upon themselves to offer a readable collection about leadership in the academy. Colleagues, both women and men, of all hues will learn something from this work. I wish that it had been available when I became chair!

– Joye Bowman, Senior Associate Dean, College of Humanities and Fine Arts, University of Massachusetts Amherst