Members of the UCLA Academic Senate unanimously voted Thursday to establish an African-American studies department and dismantle the current interdepartmental program, despite financial concerns about the transition. The Legislative Assembly, a committee of the Academic Senate, approved the creation of a department after it was officially proposed more than a year ago, said Jan Reiff, the chair of the Academic Senate. The university hopes to have the department fully established by the fall, Reiff added.
The Department of African American Studies will be able to offer more classes, recruit more faculty members, and provide more academic resources than the current interdepartmental program, according to a 434 page proposal that called for departmentalization.
“The goal is to hire faculty that have their academic homes in African American studies and have faculty fully committed to the development of the programs offered,” said Tyrone Howard, a professor in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA and the founder and director of the Black Male Institute.
He added that he thought the department was needed because a number of students felt that other ethnic studies programs that have their own department at UCLA were considered more important than the Afro-American studies program. The César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies was established in 2005 and the department of Asian American Studies was established in 2004.