Center for African Studies Gains Momentum at Duquesne; Acting Director Named
In alignment with Duquesne University's strategic goal to place "a new emphasis on Africa and the African diaspora," Dr. Gerald M. Boodoo, associate professor of theology, has been named acting director, Center for African Studies, effective July 1, 2012.
"The Center for African Studies will be a unique, University-wide program to benefit students from all schools in terms of their career possibilities," Boodoo said.
Initially, Boodoo's work will be to develop a minor in African studies that consists primarily of courses already offered at Duquesne. "We also are exploring the possibility of creating a capstone course in African studies across a wide range of topics."
Originally from Trinidad and with a research focus on the Caribbean, part of the African diaspora, Boodoo is a good fit to lay the foundation for the new center, said Dr. James Swindal, acting dean of the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts.
"Gerald is a great person to get this up and going, especially because he has experience in successfully directing interdisciplinary programs," Swindal said. "And because this is a University-wide effort, he'll have an array of resources available to help along the way."
Work to establish the Center for African Studies has been under way for a number of years. The Rev. Casimir Nyaki, C.S.Sp., visiting assistant professor of philosophy, has completed significant background work on the program, developing the initial proposal and meeting with more than 30 faculty and administrators to build interest and support.
"The uniqueness is that this is an academic program, but at Duquesne, it's also concerned with studying for the betterment of the people in Africa and also of African-Americans in our own neighborhood in Pittsburgh," Nyaki explained.
The Center for African Studies will be an important reflection of the Spiritan tradition at the core of the University.
"One of our founding fathers, Fr. Francis Libermann's whole heart was focused on Africa," Nyaki reflected. "He had a revolutionary commitment to helping the African people."
Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic research universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. The University is nationally ranked by U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review for its rich academic programs in nine schools of study for nearly 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, and by the Washington Monthly for service and contributing to students' social mobility. Duquesne is a member of the U.S. President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for its contributions to Pittsburgh and communities around the globe. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges acknowledge Duquesne's commitment to sustainability.