Amilcar Shabazz Takes New ‘Diversity and Excellence’ Post at UMass

University of Massachusetts Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy has appointed Amilcar Shabazz, professor of Afro-American studies, to serve as his faculty advisor for diversity and excellence.

Amilcar Shabazz will serve on the Campus Leadership Council and be the chancellor’s representative to all campus groups, committees and councils involved in advancing diversity, according to a press release.

He will meet with various groups and members of the senior administration, staff, faculty and students, “to develop and implement appropriate academic initiatives to advance the campus’s diversity goals,” said Subbaswamy in a statement.

Shabazz said he is honored to be named to the position. He will serve half time and teach one class instead of two. The appointment is for three years.

Since the announcement earlier this week, Shabazz has been answering an avalanche of emails. “Many people are already putting me to work,” he said, adding that his  appointment “gives (hope to) a lot of people who may have felt previously I have no where to bring my concerns.”

“The Chancellor has regularly expressed his commitment to diversity and inclusion since coming here, and he believes Dr. Shabazz can play a vitally important role given his background,” said spokesman Edward F. Blaguszewski in an email.

The chancellor is “a very good leader,” Shabazz said. “We have this tradition of excellence in diversity in terms of UMass Amherst…We still have a lot of challenges before us. I think he was a quite a visionary (in making the appointment.)”

He said talked with the chancellor over the summer and then again in November and he knows the chancellor is committed to change.

A professor at UMass since 2007, Shabazz is the author of several books including “Advancing Democracy: African Americans and the Struggle for Access and Equity in Higher Education in Texas.”

Born Eric Frank, Shabazz changed his name several decades ago. He changed his first name to honor Amilcar Cabral, the founder of the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde, and his surname to Shabazz, to honor Malcolm X whose religious name was Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.

Those names, he said “were the expression of the evolution of my own intellectual development and the expression of my deepening cultural identity”…

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