Buffalo State University is using funds from the State University of New York’s Promoting Recruitment, Opportunity, Diversity, Inclusion and Growth (PRODI-G) initiative to hire new faculty members to strengthen the university’s Black studies efforts. Black studies has operated as a minor degree program since the 1980s but will now be offered as a major. The new program is composed of 14 courses in political science, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, and English, including African American Literature to 1940, the Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, Race and Progress, and Hip-Hop Culture.
Black professors make up just 4 percent of SUNY’s faculty while African Americans are about 16 percent of the state’s population. With the PRODI-G initiative, SUNY’s goal is to roughly double the percentage of faculty it considers as representing “underrepresented groups”— 8.5 percent — within the next decade. Buffalo State is the first SUNY campus to get salary support through the program. And it is using these funds to boost its Africana studies major.
The university has hired three new faculty members for its Africana studies program: Marcus Du Bois Watson, Cameron Herman, and John Torrey.
Dr. Watson, who is also serving as an assistant professor of individualized studies, taught at the University of Wyoming for nine years. His research expertise is in Africa and the African diaspora, with a particular interest in South Africa, Ghana, the Afro Caribbean, and Black America. He received his doctorate in cultural anthropology from Cornell University in 2009.
Dr. Herman, who will also be an assistant professor of sociology, previously taught at Northern Arizona University. Dr. Herman specializes in how marginalized groups experience and navigate inequality in urban environments. He holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Michigan.
Dr. Torrey joined Buffalo State as a visiting professor in 2018. His research interests are unique in that they combine social and political philosophy and African American philosophy. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Memphis.