September 30, 2020

A new fellowship program that enables faculty to focus their personal and professional development of antiracism knowledge and skills was announced this month by the School of Social Work. 

The Roffman Term Faculty Fellowship for Antiracism was created with a gift from Professor Emeritus Roger Roffman plus an in-kind match from the School of Social Work. Two inaugural fellowships for the focused study of antiracism will be announced in early October. Two additional fellows will be selected in the 2021–22 academic year.

The new fellowship program reflects heightened concerns of systemic and historic racism, including the social and economic oppression of Black people, Indigenous people and people of color. “Roger’s generous gift creates a unique opportunity to better prepare our fellows for lifelong antiracism work,” said Dean Eddie Uehara. “It will greatly enhance their contributions to the School’s education, research and service mission in support of transformative antiracist strategies and actions.” 

Roffman first joined the School of Social Work in 1972 where he focused his research on behavioral interventions in the fields of addictive disorders and domestic violence. After retiring from the School in 2009, he began writing a book of historical fiction that included some characters who were slaves. To deepen his knowledge of slavery, he enrolled in classes and discussion groups on racism, white privilege and supremacy, and studied the eras of enslavement and Reconstruction. 

“The more I learned, the more I wished I had this awareness years earlier,” he said. “I would have been a better teacher. That led me to wonder if some of the School faculty might benefit from a fellowship focused on antiracism.” 

The fellowship provides funds for one academic year. Applicants are asked to propose activities related to the study of antiracism that will deepen their understanding, experience and potential for sustained social change. These activities might include field trips, intensive coursework, workshops, working with mentors, and engaging in community service. At the end of the fellowship year, recipients will use curriculum reform, teaching strategies and other tactics to sustain their engagement in antiracism work.