Bowdoin College Launches Race, Racial Justice Initiative with Four New Endowed Chairs

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Dr. Jennifer Scanlon, dean for academic affairs at Bowdoin CollegeDr. Jennifer Scanlon, dean for academic affairs at Bowdoin CollegeBowdoin College in Maine will consider scholars and artists for four new endowed chairs focused on race, racism, and social justice as part of a cluster hiring initiative.

The idea for the initiative came about in the wake of campus conversations following the 2020 killing of George Floyd.

"There was a sense that there had to be a public reckoning with our nation's history of racial injustice—on campus, as everywhere—and that we at Bowdoin needed to do all we could to help our students develop the tools to think through complex problems of race, racism, and racial justice," said Dr. Jennifer Scanlon, dean for academic affairs at Bowdoin. 

The chairs, which are fully funded by donors, are named in honor of four distinguished Black graduates of Bowdoin.

The new hires should have a background in teaching and research that particularly centers on Black communities in the Americas.

"If an institution wants to really make impactful shifts in the composition of its faculty, as well as the areas of scholarship that the curriculum is missing, it's really effective to bring in more than one person because it increases the visibility and the significance of the work," said Dr. Judith Casselberry, associate professor of Africana Studies, who has been active in the search process since the early stages.

Bowdoin will start posting ads for these positions this summer. The goal is to start the hiring process for the endowed chairs in the 2022-2023 academic year.