Hamilton professor will lead AAAS
Published: Monday, August 27, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 15:08
Chad Williams was named the new chairman of the Department of African and Afro-American Studies. Williams, who was an associate professor of history at Hamilton College and an instructor at the W. E. B. DuBois Scholars Institute, succeeded Prof. Faith Smith (ENG) as department chair in July.
Since receiving a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and master’s and doctorate degrees from Princeton University, Williams has gone on to receive several scholastic accolades, including multiple awards for his book on African-American soldiers during World War I.
“I am delighted that Dr. Chad Williams will be joining the faculty as the Chair of AAAS,” wrote Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Susan Birren in an email to the Justice. Birren praised William’s scholastic accomplishments and expressed her enthusiasm about his appointment as chairman. “
Professor William’s distinguished scholarship in the history of African Americans in the military, combined with his energy and leadership abilities, make him an outstanding choice for this position,” she wrote.
In an email to the Justice, Williams expressed great optimism about the future of the AAAS department, stating, “I think that AAAS is uniquely positioned to potentially become one of the premier African American studies departments in the nation.”
Williams said that he plans to build on the work of his predecessors, rather than provide stark changes to AAAS, as it is “already a very strong department.” While expanding on the department’s foundations, Williams said he hopes to simultaneously bring new ideas and life to AAAS.
In a long-term effort to expand the department, Williams said he aims to create partnerships with African-American studies departments at neighboring institutions.
More immediately, he hopes to attract more students to the AAAS department by broadening and strengthening the curriculum, and by working with other departments at Brandeis. Williams’ plan for AAAS is clearly influenced by his experiences at Hamilton, where he said he “learned a great deal about the value of collegiality and interdepartmental cooperation.”
Birren stated that she expects Brandeis as a whole to benefit from the appointment. “Under [Williams’] leadership I expect that AAAS will contribute to the education of all Brandeis students, whether they have major or minors within the department or not,” she wrote.
While at Hamilton, Williams was honored with the Dean of the Faculty Notable Year Achievement Award. His book, “Torchbearers of Democracy: African American Soldiers in the World War I Era,” was named a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title and has won awards from both the Liberty Legacy Foundatio, and the Society for Military History. Additionally, Williams has received a Woodrow Wilson Foundation Career Enhancement Fellowship.