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Carlisle named interim director of black studies

By Sally Harris

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 23 - March 5, 1998

E. Fred Carlisle, William E. Lavery professor and former senior vice president and provost, has been named interim director of black studies at Virginia Tech.
Robert C. Bates, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, made the appointment on the recommendation of Burton I. Kaufman, chair of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies (CIS), where black studies resides.
Carlisle will replace Joyce Williams-Green, who is leaving Virginia Tech to become assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs at Winston-Salem State University. Williams-Green and several black faculty and staff members encouraged Carlisle to consider the position and promoted his candidacy with Bates and Kaufman.
"I am very pleased that former Provost Carlisle has agreed to accept this interim position, given his long and distinguished record in promoting issues of diversity and his continued interest in African studies," Bates said. "In addition to providing leadership to this important focus on black studies, he will further develop the program in African area studies, which complements the black studies offerings already in place."
"Black studies is an important university program, as well as a college and CIS program," Carlisle said, "and I'm glad to be part of it for this short period. I'm also grateful to the black faculty and staff members for thinking so well of me."
Since he left the Provost's Office in 1995, Carlisle has been teaching and studying African literature and culture. Bates has asked him, among several assignments, to help the college define an African studies program and to consider how it might be associated with black studies. Carlisle also will be working on a provisional plan for black studies.
During his tenure as provost, Carlisle significantly advanced the university's commitment to affirmative action and diversity. Under his direction, the Provost's Office sponsored a three-year series of retreats and seminars for colleges, departments, and administrative offices about valuing racial and gender diversity. It instituted the Exceptional Opportunity Program as an incentive for departments to hire women and minority faculty members. The office also helped establish the Women's Center, fostered important personnel-policy revisions, and actively supported Student Affairs programs, such as the Black Cultural Center, the Multi-Cultural Awareness Program, and the racial- and gender-issues presentations during summer orientation for new students. The Black Studies Program was established during Carlisle's first year as provost.
Carlisle received the Ph.D. degree from Indiana University in 1963. In addition to a noteworthy record of scholarship, including being the author and co-author of several books and a number of scholarly articles and three NEH grants, Carlisle also has had a distinguished career in academic administration. From 1979 to 1981, he served as chair of the Department of English at Michigan State University, and, from 1981 to 1985, he was assistant to the president at Michigan State. In 1985, he was appointed provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Miami University in Ohio, a position he held until moving to Virginia in 1989.
The search for a permanent director of black studies will begin in the spring.