Louisiana College Grants Tenure to Black Professor for First Time

In Summary

Centenary College of Louisiana granting a Black faculty member full tenure raises questions on why it took so long in the college’s 196-year history to recognize its Black faculty members.

For the first time in 196 years, Centenary College of Louisiana has granted a Black faculty member full tenure status. 

Dr. Andia Augustin-Billy was recognized by the Shreveport City Council in a meeting on Tuesday, October 26. According to a report from Shreveport CBS affiliate KSLA News 12, while Centenary is one the oldest universities in Louisiana and has been training scholars for nearly 200 years, the tenure brings up many questions for Augustin-Billy. She asks why it took so long in its extensive history to bestow tenure to a Black faculty member. 

Augustin-Billy also questioned the underrepresentation of Black professors, specifically Black women, in the classroom. 

Related: Zimbabwe’s Dangarembga First Black Woman To Receive German Peace Prize

“I think we’re missing out a lot by not having a wide range of teaching voices. It makes education so much richer, so much fuller, so much rounder,” Augustin-Billy said in the KSLA report. 

In an article from the Associated Press, people with relationships to the college spoke on the possible reason being linked to past instances of racism from the institution. 

Christopher Holoman, the president of the Centenary college in Shreveport, stated that the history was undeniable and that institutions as old as Centenary, specifically in southern states, should take some accountability in their role in history. 

School archivist Chris Brown said in the report that racism definitely played a role in the lack of tenure for the college’s Black faculty. 

“Structural and institutional and systemic racism has been present ever since the college was founded, largely by enslavers,” Brown told the AP. 

Augustin-Billy is an award-winning teacher of French and Francophone Studies and hopes this will spark a conversation about including Black scholars in academia. 

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