(PRWEB) December 4, 2002
Spelman College Announces William and Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby
Endowed Professorships for Fine Arts & Humanities
Atlanta, GA (November 3, 2002) Â Dr. Bernice Reagon of the legendary a capella group Sweet Honey in the Rock and nationally known scholar and anthropologist Dr. Shelia Walker have been named the William and Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Endowed Professors for the 2002-2003 academic year. They join Professor Ayoka Chenzira, who was appointed the first Cosby Endowed Professor of Fine Arts during the 2001-2002 year.
The Cosby Endowed Professorship Program is an inter- and intra-disciplinary initiative designed to expand the intellectual, cultural and creative life of students at Spelman College and the surrounding community through the fine arts and humanities. The overall objective of the program is to enlarge and revitalize the unique connection between academic scholarship, intra and interdisciplinary curriculum offerings, as well as cultural- and service-based learning, all of which are firmly rooted in the history of the College.
Each Cosby Endowed Professor brings a unique background to Spelman that will help accomplish these objectives:
Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon
Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, an internationally known producer, composer and recording artist, is the founder and spirit behind the Grammy Award-nominated a capalla ensemble Sweet Honey and the Rock, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2003. This Spelman alumna (CÂ70), an acclaimed music and cultural historian, is also a specialist in African American oral, performance and protest traditions. She will teach courses and produce events in conjunction with students that will be open to the community. On February 15, Sweet Honey in the Rock will perform on the campus of Spelman College in Sisters Chapel, an annual event that raises money to benefit the Fund For Southern Communities.
Dr. Shelia Walker
Dr. Shelia Walker, a professor of anthropology and a formidable author of several well-known academic books and numerous articles on the African Diaspora, including the book African Roots/American Culture: Africa in the Creation of the Americas, and accompanying video ÂScattered Africa: The African Diaspora in the Americas.Â The book and video was based upon the international conference The African Diaspora and The Modern World, which she organized in 1996, in conjunction with UNESCO. Dr. Walker is the first Cosby Endowed Professor in the Humanities and will teach a course during the spring semester as well as produce a public culminating event involving students.
Professor Ayoka Chenzira
Since her arrival in September 2001, Professor Chenzira has been working to create an identity for the arts at Spelman while teaching a Digital Media for the Arts course and producing the multi-media stage production ÂFlying Over Purgatory,Â which starred Ruby Dee and South African actress Mabel Mafuya. A film and video artist whose productions span features, animation, documentary, performance art and experimental narratives, Professor Chenzira is considered to be the first African American woman animator. In addition, she is one of the first African American women filmmakers to write, produce and direct a 35mm feature film, ÂAlmaÂs Rainbow,Â listed in Billboard magazine as one of the top home video rentals. (May 1998). She is working on the movie version of her screenplay, ÂFlying Over Purgatory.Â
The William and Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Endowed Professorship
To qualify for the William and Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Endowed Professorship, candidates are expected to have achieved the pinnacle of success in their careers. They must also utilize their experience to help expand intra- and inter-disciplinary curricular offerings, design a course rooted in their research fields, and facilitate joint initiatives with similarly focused colleges, universities, educational organizations, and cultural institutions.
The ultimate goal of the program is to elevate the Fine Arts and Humanities at Spelman College to a high level of recognition that is consistent with the CollegeÂs historic legacy, and the vision and life work of Drs. William and Camille Cosby. Internationally acclaimed entertainer and philanthropist Dr. William H. Cosby and his wife, Dr. Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby, have enjoyed many ties with Spelman College over the years. Dr. William Cosby received an honorary degree from Spelman College in 1986, and two of the Cosby daughters attended the College.
In 1988, Dr. Cosby announced his gift of $20 million, setting a new record of giving for historically black colleges and universities. The majority of the gift was used to erect the Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Academic Center, dedicated in 1996. The remainder of the gift is being used for the endowed professorship program.
Founded in 1881, Spelman College has a rich heritage in preparing women for leadership and service. Listed as one of the nationÂs best institutions for undergraduate education in the 2003 edition of The Princeton Review, this private, historically Black womenÂs college boasts such outstanding alumnae, including ChildrenÂs Defense Fund Founder Marion Wright Edelman, Foreign Service Director General Ruth Davis, Authors Tina McElroy Ansa and Pearl Cleage and actress LaTanya Richardson. Over 83% of the full-time faculty holds PhDs or other terminal degrees and the student-faculty ratio is 14:1. The students number over 2065 and represent 45 states and 19 foreign countries.