Who We Are
The Center for Black Studies (CBS) was established in 1971 as part of the International Studies program as a hybrid (academic and student services) program. CBS currently operates from a nine room facility built in 1993, consisting of offices for its professional staff, some organizations, a computer lab and a smart classroom. CBS supports the mission of the university to promote excellence and engagement in teaching, learning, research, scholarship, artistry and outreach and service. It operates based on fulfilling this mission under the leadership of Vernese Edghill-Walden, Ph.D., chief diversity officer in the Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
The CBS conducts research on the experiences of people of African descent and offers a minor in Black Studies. The center promotes the retention of Black students, sponsors lectures, workshops, conferences and other student-oriented activities. In addition, our staff advises and assists student organizations, hosts campus visits and develops community service/learning opportunities, including study abroad trips. The CBS plays a significant, essential and unique role in advocating for Black students at NIU, the larger DeKalb community and the university’s commitment to equity at NIU.
The Center for Black Studies offers Northern Illinois University and its surrounding communities an interdisciplinary understanding of the histories and cultures of African Americans and the African diaspora. Supporting students, faculty, staff and community partners, the Center for Black Studies advances cultural understanding, intellectual and leadership development, professional growth and social justice while serving as a collaborative and supportive space on campus.
The vision for the Center for Black Studies centers on providing the NIU community, on and off-campus, with knowledge and appreciation for Black history and culture. Through intellectual inquiry about and cultural engagement within the African diaspora, the center serves as the source of support on campus for the development of cultural knowledge, research, academic excellence, student leadership development and community service.
In fulfillment of its mission and in efforts to reach its vision, the Center for Black Studies will:
- Offer a minor focusing on the histories and cultures of African Americans with an appreciation for the historical, social and political influences of Africa and the African diaspora.
- Sponsor cultural events including lectures, dialogues and celebrations.
- Connect students to and/or create research opportunities in collaboration with affiliated faculty and campus partners.
- Provide an environment of care and support for NIU students, faculty, staff and community members.
- Employ staff members committed to student advocacy, advising and mentorship centered on positively impacting student retention and graduation.
- Coordinate formal community outreach opportunities.
- Advise student organizations directly connected with the center.