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Institute for Humanities Research names new associate director

Associate Professor Curtis Austin brings 'strong community relations' to the role


Portrait of ASU Associate Professor Curtis Austin.

Curtis Austin, associate professor of history in ASU's School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.

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August 14, 2023

Curtis Austin, an associate professor of history in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at Arizona State University, has been appointed as the new associate director of ASU’s Institute for Humanities Research. Austin will be replacing Catherine O’Donnell, who will be moving into the role of assistant vice provost in 2024.

Austin specializes in African American history with a focus on the civil rights and Black power movements. His first book, “Up Against the Wall,” examines the history of the Black Panther Party and was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title. The Outstanding Academic Titles list "reflects the best in scholarly titles and brings with it the extraordinary recognition of the academic library community,” per the American Library Association.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Curtis Austin in the role of associate director,” said Ron Broglio, director of the IHR. “Curtis will bring a wealth of experience to the institute, as well as strong community relations that will take us to the next level.”

Austin is currently completing two books, “Dare to Struggle: A History of the Black Power Movement” and “Dare to Win: A History of the San Francisco 8,” which examines the 2007–2011 court proceedings of eight former members of the Black Panther Party charged with homicide. Exploring and analyzing the court’s adjudication and dismissal of the case, the book also examines the state of California’s and the federal government’s role in freeing the men who became known as the San Francisco 8.

Austin served as director of the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) for seven years. He then became founding director of USM’s Center for Black Studies. While serving as associate professor in Ohio State University’s Department of African and African American Studies, Austin moved into the role of director of the Young Scholars Program, which prepared disadvantaged youth from grades six through 12 for college success. During this time, Austin won the Award for Outstanding Service in The Promotion of Social Responsibility and the C. Peter Magrath University Community Engagement Award. From 2017 to 2020, Austin served as associate professor of history and founding director of the Black Studies Program at the University of Oregon.

The Institute for Humanities Research supports research and creative engagement with what it means to be human in a constantly changing world. The IHR connects university and partner communities in celebrating the best of what the humanities can accomplish across cultures, time and space.

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