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October 14, 2008 - Image 7

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2008-10-14

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q The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.cam

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Tuesday October14, 2008

STI

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University President Mary Sue Coleman spoke yesterday at the official celebration of the University's new African Studies
Center. The ASC technically opened in July, but officials waited until the school year reconvened to have the event.
Coleman,'U' officials christen
new African Studies center

Unit already has
links with
schools in Ghana
By CHARLES GREGG-GEIST
DailyStaff Reporter
Eight months after Univer-
sity President Mary Sue Cole-
man returned from a two-week
trip to southern Africa, the Uni-
versity celebrated the creation
of a new African Studies Cen-
ter with a reception yesterday
night.
"The University of Michi-
gan aspires to engage globally ...
through personal experiences,
through the contributions of our
students, faculty and staff," Cole-
man said at the reception held in
* the Michigan League. "I firmly
believe that the African Stud-
ies Center will help us accelerate
those connections."
The ASC, which officially
launched in July, is now working
with universities in Ghana and
South Africa with which the Uni-
versity already has ties. But Kelly
Askew, interim director of the ASC
and an associate professor in the
Afroamerican and African studies
and anthropology departments,

said she hopes the center will
eventually work with universities
across sub-Saharan Africa.
The Center for Middle Eastern
and North African Studies, one
of the 18 area studies centers that
comprise the International Insti-
tute, facilitates research and
exchange in northern Africa.
International Institute Director
Mark Tessler co-chaired a commit-
tee that assessed the University's
Africa-related work and called for
the creation of the ASC last year.
He said one of center's main goals
is to help develop the faculty and
resources at African universities.
The Center's work, so far, is
organized around three initiatives.
One focuses on "heritage studies,"
another on strengthening social
research capacity at African insti-
tutions and the third on aiding
young faculty members at African
universities.
* The main components of the
first two initiatives will be major
conferences in South Africa and
Ghana, the first of which will take
place next summer.
Tessler, a professor at the Insti-
tute for Social Research, is one of
three faculty members leading the
social research initiative. He said
the long-term goal of the program
was to build a system of strong

social research centers that could
share information both with each
other and the University of Michi-
gan.
"It's not aboutworking with any
particular institution, any particu-
lar university, but a wide range of
universities," he said.
As part of the third initiative,
center staff - so far Askew and
two others - is reviewing appli-
cations from Ghanaian and South
African professors. Ten of the
45 applicants will be selected to
do research at the University of
Michigan next semester. Askew
said faculty in Africa often have to
take on a full teaching load before
they finish their doctoral work
and never have the opportunity to
complete that research.
Coleman praised the ASC's
potential to aid faculty this way.
"If there's anythingI learned on
this trip, it is the deep desire and
hunger and need of young, Afri-
can faculty for the opportunity to
come and take a little break from
the hard work that they're doing
to help build their own institu-
tions," Coleman said. "I'm very
proud of this program because I
really do think that we're going to
be meeting a really great need for
the building of these African uni-
versities."

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