Williams to chair African and Afro-American Studies

Hamilton College professor specializes in military and politics of World War I era

Chad Williams, an associate professor of history at Hamilton College, has been named the new chairman of the Department of African and Afro-American Studies. He will begin in July.

Specializing in African American military and political environments of the World War I era, Williams joins the Brandeis faculty following six years of teaching at Hamilton College in New York. He was also an instructor at the W. E. B. DuBois Scholars Institute. Williams earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Los Angeles, and received a master’s and doctorate in history from Princeton University.

In 2011, Williams won the Liberty Legacy Foundation Award for the best book on the struggle for civil rights in the United States from the nation’s founding to present and the Distinguished Book Award for US History from the Society for Military History for “Torchbearers of Democracy: African American Soldiers in the World War I Era,” which was also selected as a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title.

His academic honors include the Dean of the Faculty Notable Year Achievement Award at Hamilton, membership in American Council of Learned Societies and a Woodrow Wilson Foundation Career Enhancement Fellowship.

“Professor Williams is an expert on the history of African Americans in the military and his teaching and research in U.S. and African American history will provide exciting new opportunities for our students,” said Dean of Arts and Sciences Susan Birren. “He will be a dynamic new chair for AAAS and will be interacting with the many departments and programs with shared interests.”

He will succeed Faith Smith, who will continue teaching at Brandeis in the fall.

Williams said that Brandeis’ AAAS department has a stellar reputation and that he is looking forward to moving with his wife and two young sons to the Boston area, which he feels is a very stimulating intellectual environment.

He’s eager to help guide the department into the future, he said, but first “I need to really listen to people – that will be the most important thing. I need to learn more about the history of the department and what people’s ideas are – not just in AAAS – and see how we can fit into the larger strategic planning process.”

Ibrahim Sundiata, the Samuel and Augusta Spector Professor of History and a member of the search committee, said he has spoken with Williams at length and thinks he is a great choice – fairly young for an academic, but well-published and with many awards to his credit.

“He’s the kind of person Brandeis really needs,” Sundiata said. “We were very pleased to get him.”

Sundiata noted Williams’ passion for social justice as paramount and his interest in partnering with AAAS departments at other Boston-area universities, and lauded his current project, which deals with W.E.B. DuBois’ unpublished manuscript as exciting research.

Williams will teach Introduction to African and Afro-American Studies in the fall.

“I’m really looking forward to getting to know everybody at the university and, coming from a liberal arts school such as Hamilton College, to translating my teaching experience to Brandeis,” Williams said. “I’m excited to work with the students.”

Categories: Humanities and Social Sciences

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