Endowed Scholarship Aids Groundbreaking Work in Afro-American Studies
In her four decades at UMass Amherst as a student, faculty member, and administrator, Esther Terry has left her mark, most notably as one of the founders of the Afro-American Studies Department and as its long-time chair. Now, her legacy has been honored with an endowed fund to support research by a doctoral students in the department.
Created by an anonymous donor, The Esther M. Terry Award is the first fund in the W.E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies designed to build scholarship in Afro-American life and letters. “Our researchers will contribute to what we know about the life and times and the aspirations of Black Americans. That’s not always the story that’s been told so there is a lot to be done,” says Terry, who now serves as associate chancellor for equal opportunity and diversity and as interim vice chancellor for student affairs and campus life.
Doctoral students will be the prime beneficiaries of the award. It will allow them to hire research assistants, travel to a historic site, or review archival materials. The secondary benefits, Terry says, are the prestige the award brings to the department and to UMass Amherst
In making the gift, the donor says she was motivated by Terry’s academic achievements and service to UMass Amherst. Earning her PhD in English in 1974, she has devoted her life to uncovering the historic experiences of African Americans. Working with a handful of others she founded the department in 1969, one of the first academic departments devoted to Afro-American studies at a major research university. The department made the history books a second time in 1998 when its doctoral program became one of two in the country.