After 196 years, Centenary College celebrates its first Black tenured faculty member

[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] Meredith G. White (Shreveport Times) writes about Haitin-born Andia Augustin-Billy, who became Centenary College’s first Black tenured faculty member.

In Centenary College of Louisiana’s 196 years, there has never been a tenured Black faculty member.

That changed on Nov.4, as the college celebrated Dr. Andia Augustin- Billy’s achievement with an event at the College’s Anderson Auditorium. 

The event included speeches from Centenary president Dr. Christopher L. Holoman, College archivist Chris Brown, Marissa Ramsey, vice president of Centenary’s Black Student Union Kevin Brown, Jr. and Shreveport Council member LeVette Fuller with assistant professor of education, Dr. Michael Hicks, as as the master of ceremonies. Holoman talked in length about the different journeys that brought Centenary to this celebratory moment, stating “Let us use this moment to celebrate the progress that has been made, but also to acknowledge the unforgivably slow pace of that progress in the past and the distance still to travel on this journey.”

Several students, faculty and alumni talent were showcased including a dramatic reading from senior Wendy Jimenez, singing from the assistant professor of music Dr. Janani Sridhar and alumni Timothy McCoy, and an art exhibit by senior Hailey Ross. 

Augustin-Billy is an associate professor of French and Francophone Studies who has a lengthy list of research interests and published scholarships including the analysis of race, class and gender, travel and migration in French and Francophone African and Caribbean literature, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

She co-teaches an immersive course examining the experiences of Black Americans in Paris as a part of the college’s Centenary in Paris program and teaches a yearly May Module course in Haiti – where she has connections from her upbringing as the daughter of missionaries. [. . .]

Augustin-Billy joined Centenary in 2015 after earning her Ph.D. in French language and literatures from Washington university in St. Louis. She was then chosen for the Harry Blake Education Award from Mt. Canaan Baptist Church in Shreveport in 2018, as well as the prestigious Mellon Emerging Faculty Leaders Award in 2019. [. . .]

“The fact that a Black woman has earned tenure at Centenary in 2021, and that the decision was based on merit, and not upon color, is certainly a cause for celebration,” said Augustin-Billy.

For full article, see

The oldest college in Louisiana celebrates granting tenure to a Black professor for the time in its 196-year history
Jeroslyn Johnson, Black Enterprise, November 4, 2021

Professor Andia Augustin-Billy was born in Les Cayes, Haiti, as she mentions in this recent interview about the August 14, 2021 earthquake and tropical storm Grace (August 16, 2021):

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