Dr. Abdullah’s Term Comes to an End

Isaac Gutierrez, Kenneth Cyprian, and Erick Gurrola

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Professor and chair of Pan-African Studies (PAS), and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, Dr. Melina Abdullah, is nearing the end of her nine-year tenure as department chair. Dr. Abdullah’s term officially comes to a close on Aug. 18, 2019. 

Though department chairs typically serve a three-year tenure at the position, Yolanda Galvan, assistant to the dean of the College of Natural Sciences (NSS), explained that,  “University procedures actually normally allow chairs to be appointed for two consecutive terms and the term can be from 3 to 5 years.”

According to the dean of NSS, Pamela Scott-Johnson, Dr. Abdullah has been granted a sabbatical for the fall semester and will return to the PAS department in the spring to teach. 

“Under her leadership, the department continued its stellar record of graduating students majoring in PAS… Dr. Abdullah has had a tremendous impact on the community of Los Angeles, and on the Pan-African and Black Studies communities,” said Scott-Johnson in an email to the UT. 

Alongside teaching, Dr. Abdullah hopes to continue her scholar-activism as well as putting more focus into her family and students.

“I wake up every morning in hopes that I do my best to honor my commitment to my ancestors, to the Creator, to my community… I want to be a good mom, not only to my biological kids but also my students here who many of them call me ‘Mama’,” said Dr. Abdullah in an interview with the UT. 

Being one of the original members of the Black Lives Matter movement, and having co-founded the Los Angeles chapter, Dr. Abdullah’s legacy is one she hopes the department continues and grows from. 

“Anything that I’ve done, I am only a part of a community… that’s what I hope I’ve built here at Cal State LA, in PAS, but also, I hope that’s what part of my legacy is, to be part of a movement,” she said. 

According to Scott-Johnson, the PAS department has not yet appointed a new chair but, “following University procedures as detailed in the Faculty Handbook, a new chair of PAS will be announced at a later date.”

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