UF faculty Senate OKs African-American studies major


Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 6:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 6:51 p.m.

The University of Florida came a step closer toward establishing an African-American studies major — and maybe diversity awareness as well.

UF’s Faculty Senate voted unanimously during a Thursday meeting to create the major. The university currently maintains an African-American studies program, offering students certificates or minors. The major has been a topic of discussion since 2007.

Sharon Austin, associate professor and director of the African-American studies program, kept her speech brief during the meeting, reminding faculty that she had given an in-depth presentation at the previous month’s meeting.

“I guess, just to be as brief as possible, I ask for your support,” she said.

Race relations and education have been a point of discussion at UF in recent months. UF’s chapter of Beta Theta Pi fraternity made headlines in October when pictures of members wearing blackface-like makeup at a themed party surfaced online.

Students complained of racial intolerance at UF during a subsequent town hall meeting, and university President Bernie Machen addressed the issue. He announced in November that UF would institute diversity programs and create the African-American studies major.

Three state universities already have similar majors — Florida A&M University, the University of South Florida and Florida State University.

The proposal will go to the university’s Board of Trustees next. If the plan is approved in its entirety, the African-American studies major will be established in time for fall 2013.

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