College of Arts and Sciences

African American Studies Chairperson Abdul-Radsheed Na'Allah wins Couze Diversity Award

May 15, 2009

MACOMB, IL -- A Western Illinois University faculty member and chairperson received the Western Illinois 2009 Cathy O'Neill Couza Award for Outstanding Leadership in Diversity (formerly called the Equal Opportunity and Access Director's Award) for his contributions to the University and the community at the 20th annual President's Excellence in Diversity Awards Reception held May 14.

The 2009 Outstanding Leadership in Diversity Award was presented to Abdul-Rasheed Na'Allah, chair of the WIU African American studies department. According to Na'Allah's nominator Samuel Thompson, geography department chair, "Dr. Na'Allah raises awareness of the contributions of minorities to the theatrical world, and provides encouragement to minority students to pursue advanced education careers in theatre."

"He opens the students' experiences to a larger, global world. They are enlightened to the influence of Africa throughout the world, both historically and today," Thompson added. "He is integral in bringing leading academicians and professionals to campus to speak, and he has organized numerous events at Western, including the international African Literature Association Conference."

Na'Allah, who was born in multicultural and multilingual Ilorin in northern Nigeria, joined Western's African American studies department in 1998 and founded the Creative Writers Society that fall. He was named department chair in 2004. A writer, poet and performer of African oral literature, Na'Allah's book publications include "Ogoni's Agonies: Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Crisis in Nigeria;" "The People’s Poet: Emerging Perspectives on Niyi Osundare;" "Ahmadu Fulani: An African Poetry;" and co-editor with Bayo Ogunjimi of "Introduction to African Oral Literature and Performance."

He serves as the adviser to Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority; Muslim Student Association; Conscience: An African American Studies Theatre; and the Creative Writers' Society. He is also the director and founder of the Indigenous Africa and Diaspora Discourse Project and is the chair of the Minority Internship Program. In April 2008, Na'Allah served as the convener of the 34th Annual African Literature Association (ALA) Conference, "African and African Diaspora Women Writers, Global Challenges and Cultural Identity," hosted at Western Illinois University. The six-day conference included presenters, performers and participants from across the globe.

In addition, WIU faculty and staff, students and a Western organization received Excellence in Diversity and Multicultural Leadership awards to recognize their special efforts to promote diversity and multiculturalism at WIU or in the community.

This year's recipients include:

Excellence in Leadership Award: Assistant Director of Student Activities Joan Maze.

Excellence in Service Award: Jo-Ann Morgan, associate professor of African American studies and art.

Excellence in Education Award: Rachel Smith, an instructor in recreation, park and tourism administration.

Excellence in Service Community Involvement Award: John Cooper, professor in the School of Music.

WIU students receiving 2009 awards include:

Excellence in Service Student Award: Jamar Orr, a college student personnel graduate student from the 100 block of E. 122nd Place, Chicago.

Excellence in Education Student Award: Laura Glowacki, a senior social work major from Harvard (IL).

University students and employees receiving 2009 Special Recognition for Diversity Efforts include:

Venson Curington II, a senior communication major from the 7500 block of S. Yates Blvd, Chicago; David Downing, a graduate college student personnel student from Lafayette, IN; Susan Stewart, assistant professor of management, WIU-Quad Cities; Kristi Mindrup, director of instructional and administrative services, WIU-QC; and Gloria Delaney-Barrman and Carla Paciotto, educational and interdisciplinary studies professors.

Copy By: Darcie Shinberger, University Relations
Phone: (309) 298-1993 * Fax: (309) 298-1606