Hu-DeHart came to Brown in July from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she chaired the Department of Ethnic Studies.
BAM What influenced your decision to come to Brown?
Hu-DeHart I've had a long association with Brown. Most recently, when Gordon Gee was president, he invited me to be part of the Visiting Committee on Diversity. When President Simmons stepped in, that really cinched it. I wouldn't have come to Brown if I did not sense that she was totally committed to the center.
BAM What did you learn as a member of the visiting committee?
Hu-DeHart The center, which has a fifteen-year history, never really took off. Without a full-time, permanent director, it has sort of limped along with a very dedicated faculty.
BAM What is your vision for it?
Hu-DeHart I would like to build teams of faculty and students from across disciplines. Each team would choose a theme, like the environment or educational reform, and study the topic with a focus on race and ethnicity. How science defines race, for example, is different from how we might do it in the social sciences and humanities.
BAM What are your plans for the ethnic-studies concentration? Hu-DeHart Ethnic studies lacks a structure, lacks sufficient courses. I intend to reexamine the curriculum, strengthen it, and hire faculty. The ethnic-studies concentration has no real home at Brown. Now it will have a home in the center.
- Interview by Emily Gold Boutilier