Dr. Terry Kershaw, a prolific professor of Africana Studies and longtime board member of the National Council of Black Studies, died last Wednesday. He was 63.
A trained sociologist, Kershaw taught for many years at Virginia Tech, where he led the Africana Studies program and served as director of the Center for Race and Social Policy. In 2009, he was recruited by the University of Cincinnati to build its Africana Studies program and develop a Ph.D. program with an applied focus.
During his time at UC, he grew the department from five faculty members to 14 and persuaded university officials to headquarter the NCBS within the Africana Studies department.
“His scholarship has impacted the foundation and methodology of Black Studies,” said Dr. Charles E. Jones, who left Georgia State University in 2011, where he was founding chairman of African American Studies, to join Kershaw in building UC’s department. “Terry laid the groundwork for future scholarship. He was always thinking about the ways to improve the position of Black people.”
Before coming to Virginia Tech in 1999, Kershaw also taught at Antioch College, Temple University, the College of Wooster, and Whitworth College and held the Mini Lilly Chair at Marquette University.
Jones, who is now the chair of UC’s Africana Studies department, met Kershaw in 1978 while the two were doctoral students at Washington State University.
A native of New York City, Kershaw was an avid sports enthusiast who cheered for the Yankees, Giants and the Knicks. He was also a mentor to legions of young doctoral students and used the NCBS conventions to encourage graduate students and newly-minted Ph.D.s not to abandon their research.
In a statement, UC President Dr. Santa J. Ono praised Kershaw’s contribution to the public university.
“My heart goes out to the family and friends of Professor Terry Kershaw,” said Ono. “He was a true institution builder and valued colleague.”
Jones said that the best way to honor Kershaw would be for UC to greenlight the Ph.D. program in Africana Studies that Kershaw created. Currently, the doctoral program is at a stand-still and needs the support of senior-level administrators. He also said that the university should reinvest in Black Studies on campus. In recent years, the department has lost six faculty positions, and those tenure-track lines have not been filled.
“He would want his legacy to be the Ph.D. program. He was committed to building the Ph.D. program,” said Jones. “He would want us to continue to train the future scholars of the field.”
A celebration of Kershaw’s life will take place at the University of Cincinnati’s African American Cultural and Resource Center on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015 from 2 to 4 p.m. and at the Community Room, located at 770 Fulton Street in Brooklyn, New York, on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 beginning at 2 p.m.
Jamal Eric Watson can be reached at [email protected]. You can follow him on twitter @jamalericwatson