Maryville College awards tenure to first African-American woman

Maryville College awards tenure to first African-American woman

Posted:
Dr. Frances Henderson is the first African-American woman to receive tenure at Maryville College. Dr. Frances Henderson is the first African-American woman to receive tenure at Maryville College.
"I think nationwide within academia, there is something to be said about the systematic absence, I think, of faculty of color," said Dr. Henderson. "I think it speaks volumes to the work that we still have to do." "I think nationwide within academia, there is something to be said about the systematic absence, I think, of faculty of color," said Dr. Henderson. "I think it speaks volumes to the work that we still have to do."

By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

MARYVILLE (WATE) - A female professor at Maryville College is making history. She is the first African-American woman to receive tenure at the college.

When Dr. Frances Henderson was hired at Maryville College six years ago in the political science department, she found out quickly she was the only African-American female on the tenure track at the school.

"It didn't make me act differently, but as an African-American woman in academia, I'm conscious of the different struggles, different victories African-American women and faculty have in academia," said Dr. Henderson.

Dr. Henderson says she is honored to be the first African-American woman to receive tenure at Maryville College and hopes people will see the need for more diversity.

"I think nationwide within academia, there is something to be said about the systematic absence, I think, of faculty of color," said Dr. Henderson. "I think it speaks volumes to the work that we still have to do."

Maryville College administrators say they hope that what has happened with Dr. Henderson will not stop and that more diversity will continue to grow here on campus.

"It is difficult to hire people from underrepresented populations in a small college in Southern Appalachia" said Maryville College Vice President and Dean of Students Vandy Kemp. "Since its founding in 1819, the college has always been very committed to making sure education opportunities to everybody."

Dr. Henderson feels receiving tenure is making the step in the right direction, and she sees diversity growing at Maryville College.

"I think the door is wide open," said Dr. Henderson. "I think that it has now become clearer that this is a continuation of Maryville College's strategic plan for diversity."

The first African-American man to be awarded tenure at Maryville College was Dr. John Perry.

He was hired in 1985, and was tenured in 1989. Perry retired from the physical education and health department in 2003.

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