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(l. to r.) John Hamilton, Dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication; William Slater, visiting professor and dean from Texas Christian University; and Katrice Albert, Vice Provost for Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach

LSU Bolsters Diversity Through HBCU Visiting Faculty Program

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Astrid Merget and Vice Provost for Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach Katrice Albert welcomed two visiting professors this fall who are participating in the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCU, Visiting Faculty Program.

William Slater, a visiting professor and dean from Texas Christian University, or TCU, and John Harkless, a visiting professor from Howard University, are the fourth and fifth HBCU visiting professors to participate in this partnership program. This is the beginning of the third year for this faculty diversity initiative.

Slater was nominated by John Hamilton, Dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication and Hopkins P. Breazeale LSU Foundation Professor. Slater will have a joint appointment with the Manship School and the Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs. Harkless, who was nominated by Andrew Maverick, Dr. Philip W. & Foymae Kelso West Professor in Chemistry, will have an appointment in the chemistry department.

“We are very proud that Dean Slater and Dr. Harkless join us at LSU this semester,” said Merget. “Their academic records are outstanding. There is no doubt that they will be value added in the School of Mass Communication and Department of Chemistry, respectively. Deans Hamilton and Kevin Carman affirm the benefits of diversity by participating in this initiative.”

The HBCU Visiting Professor Program began in spring 2007 and it provides the opportunity to increase African-American faculty presence at LSU; to facilitate scholarly collaboration between LSU faculty and visiting faculty members from HBCUs across the nation; and, by connecting with HBCU faculty, encourage outstanding ethnic minority undergraduates to consider LSU as their graduate school of choice.

Albert noted, “Although the HBCU visiting program is a very young initiative, colleges and departments are eager to participate in this diversity enhancement strategy. We are seeing a significant increase in nominations each year for visiting professors. Our former visiting faculty report having very good experiences with students and colleagues. They are collaborating and continuing research endeavors past their visits at LSU. And most noteworthy, there are graduate school ‘pipelines’ being established for graduate recruitment.”

Slater will be teaching courses in journalism, advising both graduate and undergraduate students, serving on various committees in the Manship School, and assisting the school with minority recruitment. Additionally, Slater will be serving as a Reilly Fellow with the Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs.

“We are always eager to bring talent and diversity to our school,” said Hamilton. “What better way than to get one of the premier deans in the country, who is also an African-American, to spend a semester with our faculty?”

Slater has co-authored two books, has been principal investigator on several communications projects in the United States and Canada, and has written and produced several award-winning documentaries, one of which was awarded a regional Emmy. He earned his undergraduate degree from Tufts University in Medford, Mass. He completed his master’s and doctoral work at Stanford University. Although Slater is not currently at a historically black college or university, he has an established record of recruiting and retaining ethnic minority students to predominantly white institutions.

“Harkless will be teaching a graduate-level class that examines the application of computational methods to various areas in chemistry, and that class is well subscribed,” said Kevin Carman, dean of the College of Basic Sciences. “His expertise in computational chemistry bridges multiple disciplines and is an excellent complement to the research interests of our faculty. Dr. Harkless will be able to take advantage of the high-performance computing resources offered by LSU and LONI while he is here.

“We are delighted to have Dr. Harkless spend a semester in the LSU chemistry department,” Carman continued. “Clearly, both our graduate students and faculty are benefiting from his visit. We hope that his visit will provide the basis for future collaborations, and that he will take good impressions of LSU back to Howard so that his own students will consider LSU or similar institutions when they are considering their career options.”

Harkless has co-authored articles that have appeared in the “International Journal of Quantum Chemistry” and the “Journal of Physical Chemistry.” His current research at Howard University includes research in the quantum Monte Carlo, or QMC, application to transition metal systems, charged species, organic radicals and electronically excited molecules. He earned his undergraduate degree in chemistry and mathematics from Morehouse College and his doctorate in chemistry from the University of California at Berkley.

Slater is dean and professor in the college of communication at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, and Harkless is an associate professor of chemistry at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Past participants have included professors from Southern University in Baton Rouge, La., and Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Fla.

For more information, please visit www.lsu.edu/diversity or contact Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach at 225-578-5736 or diversity@lsu.edu.

Melissa Foley | Editor
LSU Office of Public Affairs | Fall 2008

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