The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved a new doctoral program in Black Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, marking a first for the university, the state of Texas, and the American South and Southwest.
The Department of African and African Diaspora Studies (AADS) in the College of Liberal Arts will administer the new degree program, which was approved by the board at their regular meeting Oct. 25.
"This is a historic moment for The University of Texas at Austin and for the state of Texas," said department Chair Edmund T. Gordon.
"In 1952 the university awarded its first degree of any kind to an African American student. We are overjoyed that today, 60 years later, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has approved the creation of a new doctoral degree in Black Studies. We have come a long way and will continue to press forward."
Through the new program, the university will credential scholars with expertise in the discipline created by and about people of African descent.
Gordon said the doctoral program provides a balanced curriculum that will give students a strong foundation in Black Studies, while also exposing them to the theories and methods of disciplines in the arts, humanities and social sciences. It also will offer students a unique opportunity through its affiliation with a policy institute, the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis.
"I'm extremely proud and delighted that UT Austin has become the first university not only in Texas but in the entire American South and Southwest to offer a Ph.D. in this important area of study," said President Bill Powers. "Expertise in Black Studies at the doctoral level will inform our understanding of arts and culture, history, and even policy as it relates to this vital stream of world influence. It also will make Austin a center of intellectual activity in this field."
The Department of African and African Diaspora Studies, founded in 2009, has quickly established itself as one of the top departments in the nation, said Randy Diehl, dean of the College of Liberal Arts.
"This doctoral program promises to be one of the most significant developments in graduate education in our college and at the university," said Diehl. "The outstanding faculty will play a crucial role in developing a new generation of scholars who will make significant contributions to education and society."
Black Studies at UT Austin consists of two units in addition to AADS: the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies and the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis. These three interrelated entities mutually reinforce the research, teaching and service mission of Black Studies and provide a robust base for advancement of the discipline.