By George Mauzy
In the kickoff event of the Department of African American Studies' 40th anniversary observance, William T. Bielby, University of Illinois-Chicago professor of sociology, will present "Race at the Top: African Americans on the Boards of Directors of Large Corporations" at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 6, in Bentley Hall 227.
Bielby, former president of the American Sociological Association, will examine racial diversity within corporate America's boards of directors. He will address, among other topics, why African Americans are given token appointments on corporate boards and why some corporations elect to have African Americans on their board, while others do not.
A 5:30 p.m. reception in Bentley Annex 102 will precede the speech.
Bielby also will host a seminar at 2 p.m. Monday for African American studies and history/pre-law undergraduate students. He will discuss the 2006 academic paper he co-wrote with Pamela Coukos of the University of California-Berkeley titled "Statistical Dueling with Unconventional Weapons: What Courts Should Know about Experts in Employment Discrimination Class Actions." Participating students are required to read the paper prior to the discussion.
The College of Arts and Sciences and its departments of African American Studies and Sociology and Anthropology will sponsor Bielby's visit.
Established in April 1969, the Department of African American Studies is one of the nation's oldest programs of its kind and currently offers a bachelor degree of arts degree and a minor.
Department of African American Studies Chair Ronald J. Stephens said he is excited about Bielby's visit because it will lead to an engaging conversation.
"Dr. Bielby is a true scholar who is known as a power broker in the field of sociology, so this will be a nice kickoff for our anniversary," Stephens said. "Some of his racial diversity analysis may even shed light on our upcoming presidential election."
Bielby has written many books and articles about labor markets and discrimination, social stratification, and gender and race. He has earned several national awards for his work in family relations and feminist studies.
"Bill is one of the nation's top three expert witnesses in employment discrimination class-action lawsuits, and he is an expert in using statistics to show whether firms have discriminated on race and gender," said Assistant Professor of African American Studies Joan Weston, who has known Bielby for 20 years and admires his commitment to social change and justice.
African American Studies is planning additional anniversary events that will run through next fall quarter. On the calendar so far:
- A historical marker dedication at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 18, in front of a home at 193 W. Washington Street, Athens, where African-American author and educator Booker T. Washington was married on Aug. 11, 1886, to his second wife, Olivia Davidson. The dedication, which will feature comments by Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis, is co-sponsored by the Athens County Historical Society and Museum and the Department of African American Studies.
- A lecture by Princeton University Professor Cornel West at 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 18, in the Baker University Center Ballroom. His appearance is part of a Center for International Studies conference titled "100 Years of Progressive Islam: Honoring the Life of Mahmoud Mohamed Taha, 1909-2009." West's visit is co-sponsored by African American Studies, the Center for International Studies, Center for African Studies, the College of Arts and Sciences and the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.
"Our anniversary events are intended to engage everyone who is interested in reflecting on the historical and contemporary issues facing people of African descent," said Assistant Professor of African American Studies Robin Dearmon, who is chairing the anniversary planning committee. "We hope to reflect on not only what African American Studies has already accomplished, but also discuss how best to move the department forward while promoting scholarly rigor and social conscience in our students and faculty."