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Release date: May 19, 2000
Contact: Nancy Seideman, Director, 404-727-0640, or

Emory-Dillard Teaching Fellowship Program Names Participants For 2000-2001 Academic Year

The Emory-Dillard Teaching Fellowship Program has named Patrick Uchenna Mbajekwe of Stone Mountain, Ga. (30083) and Dwain Carlton Pruitt of Spartanburg, S.C. (29301) as inaugural fellows for the 2000-2001 academic year. The program, a collaborative venture of Dillard University and the Emory University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, provides advanced doctoral students from Emory with mentored teaching opportunities at Dillard, an historically black liberal arts institution in New Orleans, La.

Donald G. Stein, dean of Emory's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, stated that while the program is currently limited to teaching fellows in the humanities, he hopes to expand the program into other areas such as the social and natural sciences. "We believe that this highly innovative, collaborative program between Emory University and Dillard University represents a great opportunity for our graduate students who have completed all but the writing of their doctoral dissertations to gain additional independent teaching experience" says Stein. "The Emory Dillard Teaching Fellowship Program will also serve as a model for the development of similar programs with historically black colleges and universities here in the state of Georgia as well as across the country."

Dillard University President Michael L. Lomax expressed the excitement that he and the university feel about the inaugural fellows. "We are very pleased to have these two scholars join our faculty for the coming academic term," Lomax says. "Both have an international perspective and multi-cultural experience, two things we are trying to foster at Dillard." Lomax called the Emory-Dillard Teaching Fellowship an exemplary partnership, providing academic enrichment for the Dillard campus and valuable teaching experience for the young scholars from Emory.

Patrick Uchenna Mbajekwe, who is originally from Nigeria, is writing a doctoral thesis on the many changes that occurred in his homeland between 1900 and 1990. His study is exploring the changing patterns of land tenure, use, and access to land, and the relationship of these to urban growth from the period of European colonial rule to the 1990s in Eastern Nigeria. The city of Onitsha, the foremost urban center and the economic and cultural center of Igbo people, is his case study. "It is my hope to link the historical trajectory of land questions with contemporary urban problems of housing, development of slums, and inadequate town planning," says Mbajekwe.

After graduating from the University of Nigeria in 1989 with a bachelor's degree, Mbajekwe received a master's degree from the University of Lagos in 1991. He has worked as a research assistant at Emory and Stanford universities on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project, and was a recipient of the 1998 Rockefeller Foundation Africa Dissertation Award. Mbajekwe is a member of the Historical Society of Nigeria as well as the Nigerian Association of Oral History and Tradition, and two of his articles have been published by

Carolina Academic Press. He has worked as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and has given a series of public lectures on Africa at elementary and junior high schools in the Atlanta area. "I feel highly honored, excited and happy to be selected as a Emory-Dillard Teaching Fellow, though I'm also very humbled," Mbajekwe says. "I'm looking forward with enthusiasm to being Emory's worthy ambassador at Dillard University, as well as the opportunity of doing what I love doing most-teaching African history."

Dwain Carlton Pruitt graduated summa cum laude from Wofford College in 1995 before coming to Emory. He earned his master's degree here in 1999, and is working on his dissertation. Pruitt, who is fluent in French, is centering his doctoral thesis on free people of color in France, specifically the city of Nantes, from 1664 to 1848. His studies seek to identify the lives lived by persons of African descent in France's preeminent slaving port and to ascertain how well they could be assimilated into French society in a paradoxial era in which both abolitionism and modern racism were born. It discusses, therefore, among other topics, early modern French conceptions of race and difference and the policing strategies used by the French police to control a population deemed both exotic and dangerous. Pruitt has produced a documentary for WSPA-TV in Spartanburg, S.C., and has published "Images and Snapshots," a teaching guide/slide collection for area teachers. In 1996, he received a citation from the South Carolina House of Representatives for his publication, "Things Hidden: An Introduction to the History of Blacks in Spartanburg."

Rudolph Byrd, associate professor and director of the Program in African-American Studies at Emory, sees the program as beneficial both to Emory and Dillard as well as the selected fellows. "At the core of this vital collaboration between Emory and Dillard is an affirmation of our shared commitment to effective mentoring, creative approaches to pedagogy, and the production of new scholarship," says Byrd.

A joint committee from Emory and Dillard selects two Emory-Dillard Teaching Fellows annually. Each fellow, mentored by a Dillard faculty member, teaches one course in the honors program per semester.

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