Professor Roberta Meek

Last week, Provost Bruce Anderson announced the appointment of two interim co-directors of the Africana Studies program: Dr. Emanuela Kucik (Africana Studies and English) and Dr. Connie Wolfe (Psychology). He also called attention to the phased retirement plan of Professor Roberta Meek from the Africana Studies program at the College. For the past five years, Meek, a lecturer of Media and Communication and History,  has served as director of the program. Her work has helped to foster a community on campus that, according to Anderson, “students could go to for guidance surrounding courses, conversations and events centered on the experiences of people in the African Diaspora.”

This marks Kucik’s second year at Muhlenberg, where she has been applying her interdisciplinary experience in English and Africana Studies to courses like Genocide and Blackness, Global Black Literature and Introduction to Africana Studies. 

“We are both deeply committed to eradicating inequality, and we are excited to incorporate that commitment into our work with the program, both inside and outside of the classroom.”

Wolfe has taught at Muhlenberg for the past seventeen years, and she plans to incorporate her detailed knowledge of the history and values of the institution in this new position. 

During their time as interim co-directors, they plan to aid Anderson and Associate Provost Brooke Vick in the search for a professor to fulfill the role as Director of the Program. 

“One of the most exciting next steps for the program is to search for a new, full-time, tenured or tenure-track professor who would begin work in Fall 2021,” said Kucik and Wolfe in a joint statement. “We are also interested in continuing to incorporate into the program the work and classes of many of Muhlenberg’s current faculty members, which allows us to draw from the unbelievable talent we already have here, in addition to hiring a new member of the program.” 

Both Kucik and Wolfe will also take on the responsibility of the continuation and development of the program starting next semester. 

“We are dedicated to maintaining the phenomenal program that Professor Meek helped build, and we see Africana Studies as a vital hub for Muhlenberg’s students and faculty to learn about the underrepresented, interdisciplinary knowledge about people of African descent around the world,” expressed Kucik and Wolfe.

This element of interdisciplinary studies functions as a major focus for the role of the newly appointed positions; all students are encouraged to explore what the Africana Studies program has to offer. 

“We are dedicated to maintaining the phenomenal program that Professor Meek helped build, and we see Africana Studies as a vital hub for Muhlenberg’s students and faculty to learn about the underrepresented, interdisciplinary knowledge about people of Africana descent around the world.”

“We are committed to ensuring that students know that one of the most exciting elements of Africana Studies is that students from all majors and backgrounds can engage with it, learn from it and apply it to their lives,” said Kucik and Wolfe. “After taking Africana Studies courses, students in the physical sciences have told us that they are now committed to applying their new knowledge of race and racial inequality to careers in medicine, as they want to combat the racism that many black patients face in the healthcare industry,” explained Kucik and Wolfe. 

Another overarching goal of the program is to strengthen the commitment to social justice both here on campus and beyond. 

“Africana Studies is not only about the history of peoples of the African Diaspora; it is also about the reverberations of injustice against those peoples that continue today, and therefore, we view making contributions to social justice initiatives in our current moment as an integral aspect of the program,” said Kucik. “We are both deeply committed to eradicating inequality, and we are excited to incorporate that commitment into our work with the program, both inside and outside of the classroom.” 

Photo credit: Muhlenberg Office of Communications

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