Campus issues of equity, inclusion the focus for newly named Presidential Fellow James D. Anderson

by Julie Wurth and the College of Education  /   Jan 8, 2016

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As a University of Illinois graduate student in the late 1960s, Gutgsell Professor James D. Anderson, Ed.M. ’69, Ph.D. ’73, helped recruit the first class of freshmen admitted under Project 500, a first-of-its-kind program created by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to improve low minority student enrollment.

The 565 minority students admitted under Project 500 made up 10 percent of the University’s freshmen class—a percentage of students that has not been attained since, according to Anderson.

Nonetheless, Anderson, who has been a professor in the College of Education since 1974, said he has seen the campus do many things right over the years in the realms of inclusiveness and equity. Recently named a Presidential Fellow, he will work with UI President Timothy Killeen and other campus and community members to further such advancements.

As a Presidential Fellow, Anderson will spend the next year examining how the University can address issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion across the University system. His research has focused on issues at the nexus of race and education in America, a background that will bring an enhanced level of faculty guidance and insight to the Office of the President to ensure the University develops thoughtful, proactive strategies to address current and historical inequities, and to guard against others that may arise. 

Professor Anderson has held key leadership roles during his long tenure at Illinois. A member of the National Academy of Education, he is the Edward William and Jane Marr Gutgsell Professor of Education; head of the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership; executive associate dean for the College of Education; and an affiliate professor of history. Additionally, Anderson has provided expert testimony in numerous federal race-related legal cases and has authored an award-winning book and many publications on the subject. 

Killeen approached Anderson about the idea of Presidential Fellows last summer, saying he was concerned about campus issues of inclusiveness and equity.

“We actually talked about this before any of the current events happened, before Missouri, before this campus,” Anderson said in a News-Gazette question-and-answer session. “When these things did happen, in some ways it put new issues on the table, or put old issues on the table in a new way.”

Read more about Anderson’s new role on campus and excerpts from the Q&A session with News-Gazette reporter Julie Wurth.