The Center for African and African American Studies at The University of Texas at Austin has been given a new name–the Dr. John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies–honoring the late professor’s legacy as an advocate for ethnic diversity and service as founder and long-time director of the center.
The Board of Regents of The University of Texas System approved the name change May 15 during the board’s meeting in Tyler, Texas. Dr. Edmund T. Gordon heads the center, which provides programs involving more than 54 faculty members. It offers a multidisciplinary course selection for undergraduate and graduate students, in addition to presenting conferences and sponsoring community-building activities.
Warfield, who died at the age of 71 on Oct. 25, 2007, was a faculty member in the College of Liberal Arts and the Department of Educational Psychology in the College of Education for 26 years. Coming to The University of Texas at Austin in 1973, he combined the Afro-American Studies and the African and African American Research Centers into one center and became its first director, a position he held until 1986. Warfield played a critical role in recruiting and establishing the center’s first faculty, establishing the African and African American Studies major, creating its curriculum and aiding its research. He was instrumental in the promotion of African and African American Studies as an essential field of study.
Warfield also worked to connect the university’s resources with communities outside the campus. He was founder of Community Radio, Inc, which runs KAZI-FM, Austin’s community-based radio station. He was an activist scholar publishing in the area of race and sports at a time when this area of interest was in its infancy. In spring 2000, the Center for African and African American Studies established the John L. Warfield Undergraduate Research Scholarship to encourage undergraduate students to conduct research in Africa and the African Diaspora.