Edmund T. Gordon, chair of the African and African Diaspora Studies Department (AADS) in the College of Liberal Arts, was recognized on April 17 with a Presidential Citation from UT Austin President Bill Powers. As one of the university’s highest honors, this prestigious award was established to recognize the extraordinary contributions of individuals who personify the university’s commitment to transforming lives.
Gordon is also an associate professor of African and African diaspora studies and anthropology of the African diaspora at UT Austin. He has previously served as associate vice president of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement and director of the Center for African and African American Studies at the university.
Gordon says his major concern as an educator is helping his students think about how the world operates and their place in it. “I hope my classes give students the facility to think critically and to understand the world for themselves,” he says.
Under his direction, AADS has quickly established itself as one of the top academic departments in the nation, housing one of only two doctoral programs in Black Studies in the American South and Southwest.
AADS joins with the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies and the Institute for Urban Policy, Research, and Analysis to comprise UT Black Studies, which is committed to the study of the intellectual, political, artistic, and social experiences of people of African descent throughout Africa and the African Diaspora.
Of his legacy, Gordon says he wants to see the campus be more inclusive, both in terms of the students taught, the faculty that get the chance to teach, and the administrators who direct the programs.
“We have come a long way and will continue to press forward,” Gordon says.
Others receiving the citation were James Mulva, former president, chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips, and his wife Miriam Mulva, whose $15 million gift supported the construction of the new Liberal Arts Building and its ROTC center; Charles W. Matthews Jr., former vice president and general counsel at ExxonMobil; and Shannon Ratliff, a leading attorney and former member of the University of Texas System Board of Regents.
Feature image: Edmund Gordon, African and African Diaspora Studies professor, leads a tour of the racial geography and history of the UT campus.