In 1996, the American Historical Association adopted a statement on equity that acknowledges its commitment “to diversity in the historical profession” and called on “institutions to recruit aggressively and hire members from groups that have been historically discriminated against.” For example, according to figures available from the US Census and the AHA, the percentage of the current US population that is African American is slightly more than 13 percent; yet African Americans make up only 5 percent of the history faculty in the nation. Latinos, who constitute almost 14.4 percent of the current US population, make up less than 3 percent of the history faculty. The percentage of Asian American and Native Americans within the history profession more closely approximate their proportions in the total US population, but there still remains a need to increase their presence across the academy as well. It is imperative that the historical profession takes seriously its duty to remain open and available to its changing constituencies.
To further this goal, the AHA has established two equity awards to be given annually: one for individuals and another for academic units. The award can be conferred for new initiatives or for sustained efforts. These equity awards are meant to recognize and publicize individuals and institutions that have achieved excellence in recruiting and retaining underrepresented racial and ethnic groups into the historical professions. While the awards are honorary and have no monetary component, winners will receive a certificate of recognition that specially honors their efforts to secure and sustain diversity in the discipline.
The Committee of Minority Historians seeks to bestow the Equity Award upon individuals or institutions who have demonstrated an exceptional record in the recruitment and retention of students and new faculty from racial and ethnic groups under-represented within the historical professions. Deserving nominees will have records that include such achievements as mentoring, program building, fundraising initiatives, pursuing civic engagement, and enhancing department and campus culture to promote a supportive environment. Nomination letters should emphasize specific outcomes.
Eligible for the institutional award are such academic units as, for example, departments of history, public history programs, and interdisciplinary programs and research institutes. Such units may have taken advantage of university and community resources to diversify their students and faculty or to provide professional experience through teaching, research, post doctoral, or internship programs.
Individuals or institutions can nominate themselves or be nominated. The AHA’s Committee on Minority Historians will serve as the award committee that will review the nominations to make the awards.
Nominations should include:
- A cover letter of not more than 1,000 words, describing the new initiative or sustained effort. Each letter of nomination for the institutional award must specify the academic unit being nominated and include the name and address of an individual in the academic unit that can be contacted.
- A minimum of three letters supporting the nomination. These letters can be from students, former students, parents, colleagues, and others. There is no set proportion or formula on the “right” mix of letters. Individuals organizing nominations should solicit a cross selection as appropriate to address the essential elements noted above. Maximum length of letters is 500 words.
The 2015 Equity Award will be presented at the January 2017 AHA annual meeting in Denver.
Nominations with letters should be submitted to the AHA no later than May 15, 2016.
Nominations with letters should be sent electronically to Debbie Ann Doyle, Coordinator, Committees and Meetings.
2014 Equity Awards
Ernesto Chávez, Univ. of Texas, El Paso
Ernesto Chávez, professor of history at the University of Texas, El Paso, is the recipient of this year’s individual Equity Award in recognition of his achievements in mentoring a new generation of Latina/o scholars to enter the study of Chicana/o, Mexican American, and borderlands history and earn doctoral degrees. Professor Chávez is a historian whose scholarship has focused on Mexican Americans in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States.
Jim C. Harper II, chair, on behalf of the Department of History, North Carolina Central University
The Department of History at North Carolina Central University is the recipient of this year’s Equity Award for an institution that has achieved excellence in recruiting and retaining underrepresented racial and ethnic groups into the historical profession. Since 1939, the history department has produced important African American scholars. Through the decades the faculty has mentored African American students who have majored in history, and produced seventy-five alumni who have earned PhDs in history.