Feb. 21, 2007
By Jessica Cuffman
That's how Najee E. Muhammad describes himself in all aspects of his life, especially in education.
He joined Ohio University's College of Education faculty in 1996 after earning his doctoral degree from the University of Cincinnati. Originally from Jamaica, Queens, in New York City, Muhammad has known he wanted to be a professor since he was 18. Both his parents were college graduates and, as an only child, he was always surrounded with adult conversation and literature. He always knew he would go to college.
"I'm a critical social theorist, a culture theorist, but primarily my work has to do with culture theory and how Malcolm helped to shape that," Muhammad said. The education and philosophical legacy of Malcolm X and transformational leadership are his key areas of interest. Currently he teaches courses in education and cultural diversity, social structure and change, and philosophies of education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Muhammad created the now annual Malcolm X commemoration held by the university. This year, he began a new project in collaboration with other professors and departments, a series of colloquiums titled "Race and the Spectrum of Critical Consciousness." The forum, which took place in April, is planned to be an annual event. This year panelists, including Muhammad, presented on multiple topics concerning race and ethnicity and their social constructions. Panelists then facilitated an arena for audience discussion afterward. In the future, Muhammad would like to create a class on Malcolm X and another on race.
Muhammad's attitude can also be seen in his life outside the classroom as well, which consists of -- golf.
"What else is there?" he joked. "Why golf? Because it's hard. Because it builds character. It's the only game that you are required to penalize yourself. It's a game that requires honesty, integrity, and responsibility. It's a wonderful sport."
"It demands a degree of patience. It's taught me a lot about life. It's taught me patience. It's taught me anger management. It's taught me to let go. You can't hold on to what you did on the previous hole, whether you messed up, whether you had a birdie, or whether you had par. It doesn't matter. That was that hole, that's over with. Then you've got to tackle the next," he said.
But on rainy days Muhammad prefers to pop in a movie at home, most recently George Clooney's "Good Night and Good Luck," though all types of films interest him. And when he is in his office, jazz is always playing in the background.
Sincere, serious and committed, Muhammad passes a similar message to his students in education. And when he's not in the classroom, you can almost be sure to find him on the golf course.
Jessica Cuffman is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.