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Jeffrey McCune named Frederick Douglass Institute director

August 28, 2020
portrait of Jeffrey McCuneNew Frederick Douglass Institute Director Jeffrey McCune (Photo by Porsché Cain)

Jeffrey Q. McCune, Jr., associate professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies and of African and African American studies at Washington University in St. Louis, has been named director of the Frederick Douglass Institute in the School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Rochester. Kristin Doughty, associate professor of anthropology and director of the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, will serve as interim director until McCune joins the University on June 1, 2021.

As director of the Frederick Douglass Institute (FDI), McCune will bring together faculty, students, and staff from across academic disciplines to collaborate in the study of the African diaspora and offer essential programming that explores and promotes African and African American studies at the University. He will also oversee the FDI interdepartmental undergraduate major and minor programs, as well as the institute’s graduate certificate, and pre- and post-doctoral fellowships.

Gloria Culver, dean of the School of Arts & Sciences, said that it was McCune’s ability to recognize opportunities and envision new possibilities for the institute that made him the ideal candidate during the national search.

“Jeffrey brings considerable scholarship and true passion to this position,” Culver said. “We are thrilled that he will bring his vision and collaborative spirit to FDI. After an exhaustive search process, it was clear that Jeffrey was the best person to lead our programming in African and African American studies and to honor the legacy of Frederick Douglass. We are so fortunate to have Jeffrey join us at this critical time as we confront issues of racial inequality, bias, and exclusionary practices.”

McCune has personal and academic connections to FDI and the University. In 2006–2007, he was a postdoctoral fellow at FDI and a faculty associate at the University’s Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies. During his time at WashU, McCune was the director of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, where he designed new curriculum, coordinated mentorship programs, and developed programming to advance research projects. McCune is also poised to work with students and help to give a stronger voice and representation to Black students.

“I’m delighted to welcome Jeffrey McCune back to the University,” said President Sarah Mangelsdorf. “An accomplished scholar, Dr. McCune will bring a wealth of knowledge, tremendous energy, and innovative ideas for advancing the work of the Frederick Douglass Institute. His contributions and leadership will come at a particularly important time for our University as together we dedicate additional and needed attention to issues of race, diversity, equity, and inclusion on our campuses, and the knowledge and history that informs meaningful change.”

Among McCune’s top priorities as FDI director will be to revitalize its academic and programmatic services and expand its scope from an institute to a full department for African and African American studies.

“The University of Rochester has been on my radar since I was a postdoctoral fellow in the FDI almost 15 years ago,” McCune said. “The FDI’s postdoctoral program has historically housed some of the finest scholars in Black studies, and as the new director, I hope to continue this legacy of quality mentorship and programming, while also moving the unit toward departmentalization and expansion. It is my hope that we can design a unit which would be of great service to our students and the University community, cultivate dynamic faculty and advance critical scholarship, and forge new relationships with the surrounding community.”

McCune says he has already seen significant support from University leadership and looks forward to working with them and the University community. “This is the opportunity to build something really dynamic and exciting,” he said.

According to Culver, the financial struggles associated with the COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges to filling the FDI director position. “Being able to fill this position and bring a scholar of Jeffrey’s caliber to the University reflects the priorities of the School of Arts & Sciences and the University as a whole,” Culver said. “I want to recognize the support of President Mangelsdorf, Provost Rob Clark, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Mercedes Ramírez Fernández, and Dean of the Faculty for AS&E Donald Hall during these challenging circumstances. I also want to applaud their willingness to support the School of Arts & Sciences in its long-term commitments to FDI and African and African American studies.”

McCune earned a bachelor’s degree in speech/theater and secondary education from Cornell College, and a master’s degree in communications studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He earned his PhD in performance studies, with a focus on African American and gender studies from Northwestern University. McCune is an award-winning author and leader in the field of Black sexuality studies. His work has been published in multiple journals and he has been an important contributor to global conversations on race, gender, and sexuality.

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Category: University News