University News

Brooks Named Interim Director of Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center

January 8, 2015

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MACOMB, IL -- F. Erik Brooks, African American studies department chair, has been named the interim director of the Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center (GBCC).

Brooks, who will continue to serve as chair as well as in the interim director role, has been chair of African American studies at WIU since July 2012. Brooks replaces Belinda Carr, who retired in May 2014.

Brooks is a holistic academician, having served on both the academic and student affairs sides of the academy. Before coming to WIU in 2012, Brooks held several administrative positions in student affairs at Alabama State University and Virginia Commonwealth University from 1991 until 2002. He then transitioned to academic affairs and started his teaching career at Georgia Southern as an assistant professor in the department of political science, obtaining tenure and becoming the director of the Master of Public Administration Program. Also while at Georgia Southern, Brooks served as assistant to the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (2011-2012).

Brooks received his doctorate degree in public policy and administration from the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government at Virginia Commonwealth University; a master's degree in education from Alabama State; a master's of public administration degree from Auburn University; a master's degree in agency counseling and human development from Troy State University; and his bachelor's degree in journalism and art from Troy State University.

"Dr. Brooks' education, his expertise and his knowledge provide a solid foundation to lead the GBCC and further enhance this cultural center's reputation for providing outstanding programs, resources and services," said Vice President for Student Services Gary Biller.

In student affairs, he served as the director of Rhoads Residence Hall at Virginia Commonwealth University (1999-2001), student coordinator for the public policy and administration's Ph.D. program at Virginia Commonwealth University (2001-2002) and as an academic adviser (1995-1997) and as a counselor in the department of advancement studies and the university counseling center (1992-1995) at Alabama State University. He has also served an adjunct instructor at the Jepson School of Leadership at the University of Richmond (2001-2002) and in the department of advancement studies at Alabama State (1993-1996).

"We are excited with this merger of academic affairs and student services. Dr. Brooks' dual responsibilities as chair of African American studies and as interim director of the GBCC will enhance the programming and resources available at both the department and the center," noted WIU Provost Ken Hawkinson.

Brooks is a noted author and media analyst. He has served as a media analyst for the Savannah Morning News, the Jacksonville Sun Times, the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the Montgomery Advertiser. A sought-after speaker, he is often called upon to speak at public events discussing African American history, popular culture, multiculturalism and diversity. Brooks has written extensively in the areas of African American history, culture and politics, with his work appearing in scholarly journals, encyclopedias and books. Since 2006, he has authored six books. His latest books, "Tigers in the Tempest: Savannah State University and the Struggle for Civil Rights, Political Power, and Campus Freedom" is scheduled for release by Mercer University Press in 2015 and the "African American Student's Guide to College Success" is scheduled for release by Greenwood Press in 2016.

"The Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center has been an iconic unit at Western Illinois University since 1969. I am honored to have been appointed and I look forward to the challenge of leading the Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center," Brooks said. "I look forward to building on the legacy and industrious spirit of those who were the impetus to establish the center, and I also look forward to working with students and alumni of Western to shape a great future for the center. I have no doubt that we will accomplish this goal."

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