The Power and Beauty of an Africana Studies Degree

A famous poet once said, “Knowledge is power.” The Department of Africana Studies at the University at Albany motivates students (majors, minors, and all who love knowledge) to learn and to enter the real world to serve. Our Department enrolls students from all over the world who drink deep from our course offerings. In our nationally-ranked Department, students learn about Africa’s ways of life, about African Americans' ways of life, about African languages, about black religion, about black arts, literature, psychology, black history, the law and the black community, public speaking, critical thinking, expository writing, race theory and social thought, geography of Africa, black popular culture, statistics, among many other areas concerning Africa and black America. 

Greta Petry states in The Albany Magazine, “Since its founding in the 1960’s, UAlbany’s Department of Africana Studies has embraced high academic standards and a respect for all. The Department remains consistently known for excellence. UAlbany’s Africana Studies program was the first in the State University of New York System to grant the master’s degree in Africana Studies. The Department ranks first in its field nationally for graduate degree conferrals and in the top ten for undergraduate conferrals.” External reviewers have objectified and validated the quality of our undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Our Department boasts a student body that hails from countries all over the world, and our graduates work in law, medicine, education, public service, the private sector, and a host of other professions.

 Who are some of our Africana Studies graduates? What are they doing? Kelly Bates graduated with a bachelor's degree (Phi Beta Kappa) from the University at Albany and then earned her law degree from Boston University (all expenses paid). She is chief administrator at Emerson College in Massachusetts.

Michael Tillotson earned his master’s degree from the University at Albany, then went on to Temple University, where he earned his Ph.D. degree in Africana Studies. He is an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh, where he will earn tenure.

Risa Faussette earned the master’s degree in Africana Studies from UAlbany  and then earned a Ph.D. degree in History from Binghamton University. She is a tenured Professor of History at The College of Saint Rose.

Rukayatu Tijani earned the law degree from the University of California at Berkeley.

Lynn Gilmore Canton is the Former Executive Director of the Federal Management Agency (appointed by President Bill Clinton). 

Adewale Troutman earned the M.D. from the New Jersey Medical School. Dr. Troutman is Director of the Louisiana Metro Health Department.

Crystal Campbell earned the MFA from the University of California. She has worked as an artist abroad, as well as in the United States.

Kristina Daniels, a clinical psychologist, earned a graduate degree also from the University of Chicago.

Our graduates are successful after graduation. They continue to learn and to make lucrative salaries. But there are also other famous persons who majored in Black Studies, as The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education reported in the summer of 2009. It lists Black Studies majors and their Alma Maters: Angela Bassett Academy Award actress finished Yale; Jonah Edelman, former Rhodes Scholar, finished Yale; he is founder of Stand for Children; Jendayi Frazer is a Distinguished Professor at Carnegie Mellon University; he earned the Africana Studies degree from Stanford University. Frazer is a former U.S. Ambassador to South Africa. Dwight Hopkins earned the Africana Studies degree from Harvard University. He is a Professor of Theology at the University of Chicago. Mae Jamison earned the Africana Studies degree from Stanford University. She is a physician and astronaut. Gloria Naylor earned the Africana Studies degree at Yale. She is best known for The Women of Brewster Place. Finally, Claudia Thomas, who earned the Africana Studies degree from Vassar College, is the first black female orthopedic surgeon in America. Says The Journal of Black Studies, “The message is clear. A black studies degree does not limit an undergraduate to a career in which the only career is teaching the subject. Students who major in black studies, as is the case with students who major in liberal arts or the humanities, do go on to do just about anything.”

The Department of Africana Studies offers a multi-disciplinary degree which prepares students for any field of endeavor. They learn at the University at Albany and in the real world that “knowledge is power.” 

Leonard A. Slade, Jr.
22 April 2015


Keynote Address by the Governor General Hall of Jamaica at UAlbany

40th Anniversary Alumni Reunion program

Congratulatory Remarks by Honorable Reginald E. Gilliam, Jr. *

* Assistant Professor of African-American Studies at SUNYA from 1969-72.
Mr. Gilliam developed and taught courses in Civil Rights/Constitutional Law, and Political/Economic Development.


Ahati N. N. Toure. Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Africana History and Black Studies, Department of History, Political Science and Philosophy, Delaware State University Alumnus Speaker at The Department of Africana Studies' 40th Anniversary Dinner/ Dance Gala held on Saturday, September 26, 2009

Commencement Speeches