INDIANAPOLIS — As part of its long-standing efforts to create a diverse and inclusive campus and combat systemic racism, IUPUI is announcing two new initiatives designed to support and strengthen the Black community in Indianapolis.
The university is establishing the Center for Africana Studies and Culture through the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. The center will broaden the scope of the school’s existing Africana Studies program, increasing opportunities for public scholarship, professional learning, undergraduate research, and community-engaged cultural and research programming. The new center will be housed in the Madam Walker Legacy Center, strengthening IUPUI’s partnership with that Indianapolis cultural treasure as it serves the community with cultural education and programming.
“The Center for Africana Studies and Culture at IUPUI is a reflection of our campus values and priorities,” IUPUI Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar said. “IUPUI is proud to be part of the Indianapolis community and to be expanding this important work at a crucial time in our city’s history.”
Paydar has appointed Leslie Etienne as the founding executive director of the new center. Etienne will also serve as a clinical associate professor of Africana studies and director of the Africana Studies program. He has served in several roles on campus at IUPUI, including as project director for the School of Education’s Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School site.
“Africana studies is an evolution of the study of the distinct experiences of Black life within the United States and the African diaspora with a focus on service to the community,” Etienne said.