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Alphonso Simpson, Interim Chair of African American Studies (VPC photograph)

Simpson Named Interim Chair of African American Studies

September 2, 2009

MACOMB, IL - - African American Studies (AAS) Associate Professor Alphonso Simpson has been appointed interim chair of AAS, effectively immediately, according to Western Illinois University College of Arts and Sciences Interim Dean Susan Martinelli-Fernandez.

Simpson takes over for Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah, who is on a one-semester leave of absence to provide expertise and consultation on establishing a new university, Kwara State University, in Nigeria.

"Dr. Simpson's willingness to step in to help us during Dr. Na'Allah's leave is a testament to his commitment to the Department of African American Studies and to the College of Arts and Sciences," said Martinelli-Fernandez. "Dr. Simpson is imminently qualified to serve in the role of interim chairperson. He has been an active member of the department’s committees including personnel; curriculum and planning, which he chaired twice; recruitment and admissions; and assessment. He has also been a member of the University’s minority recruitment board for six years. I look forward to working with him in the coming months."

Simpson joined the Western Illinois University African American Studies faculty in August 2000. In addition to his highly-acclaimed teaching skills by his students, he is well known throughout the area for his gospel singing as well as founding and directing the United Voices of Western Inspirational Singers, a group that performs at area churches, on campus and throughout the Macomb area.

Simpson earned his Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University of Wyoming; his Master of Music Education from the University of Missouri-Columbia; and his Bachelor of Science from Alabama State University.

"I count it a privilege and an honor to be chosen to carry the mantle as the interim chair of the Department of African American Studies. To know that I have the strong support of my colleagues as well as the administration and staff of the college and University at large makes this charge even more exciting," said Simpson.

"It is my goal to take this department to higher heights and deeper depths on many levels. We have already begun to see significant growth in the department with the increase of majors as well as minors in the discipline.

"This year, marking the 40th anniversary of the very first African American studies department in the nation at San Francisco State University, is monumental, not only for the department here at Western, but for African American studies departments nationwide," Simpson added. "I am sincerely excited and grateful to serve our campus and our community in this capacity at this juncture in the history of African American studies. As our department mission states, we seek to be counted, nationally and internationally, among the leading AAS departments in America and the world, and will strive to produce graduates fully equipped to succeed in their future careers or graduate training endeavors, who will be leaders in shaping our global society. We will also continue to be a department where teaching, research and community outreach programs are at their highest standards. It is my pleasure to accept this responsibility."