Doctoral Bearcat earns Emerging Voices Fellowship 

Maurice Adkins moves onto new fellowship in Virginia

By Rebecca Schweitzer

A University of Cincinnati doctoral candidate in history has been awarded the prestigious American Council of Learned Societies Emerging Voices Fellowship.

It was a doubly sweet victory for Maurice Adkins, who on the same day as the fellowship announcement completed the final stage of his Ph.D. by successfully defending his dissertation, “Leadership in the Shadow of Jim Crow: Race, Labor, Gender, and Politics of African American Higher Education in North Carolina, 1860-1931.”

Adkins, a first-generation college student in UC's College of Arts and Sciences, graduated from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University with his degree in history. He went on to earn his master’s degree at East Tennessee State before concentrating on African American history with a secondary focus on the history of race for his doctoral studies at UC, where he has been since 2013.

“It means that my work matters to the field and that I should continue pushing to offer courses that resonate with students, particularly in an era where our national discourse is focused on police brutality, political discord, and equity and equality,” Adkins said.

This focus on resistance and protest movements not only speaks to issues affecting national discourse today, but resonates with students who experience the implications of this discourse in their own lives.

Maurice Adkins, UC doctoral student

"But personally, it shows that this journey to earn my Ph.D. was worth the struggle. Though the journey was long and came with various hurdles, I am proud to defend my dissertation and see that my work during the process is recognized and worthy of such honor in receiving a fellowship of this caliber.”

 The Emerging Voices Fellowship was created by council during the pandemic as a method to support the voices of scholars in higher education institutions. 

“I was ecstatic when I learned that Maurice earned this fellowship,” said Maura O’Connor, professor and head of the history department. “He navigated through grad school with such grace and purpose. I really admire his tremendous work ethic. It is an extraordinary honor for the department, and I think it is so good for his peers to see that one of them has achieved this national recognition. We hope that he will be able to share his story with other students in the future.”

The fellowship underscores the importance of the study of humanities, and the growth of courses focused on resistance movements, Adkins said. 

“The Social Justice and Equity subfield is the most promising new direction in my discipline," he said. "With the rise of Black Lives Matter and the impact of the killing of George Floyd, we have seen an uptick in course offerings focused on black resistance movements and the disproportionate policing of brown and black bodies in the United States.

"Disciplines in the humanities have leaned into these issues through curricula, centers, and community forums. This focus on resistance and protest movements not only speaks to issues affecting national discourse today but resonates with students who experience the implications of this discourse in their own lives.”

 Adkins recently completed a two-year predoctoral fellowship, the Perry-Williams Predoctoral Fellowship, at the College of Wooster under the Consortium for Faculty Diversity. Now that he has completed his time at the University of Cincinnati, he will be transitioning to his fellowship at the University of Virginia. 

 “As a scholar,” said Adkins, “I am grateful to have the support of fellowships such as the American Council of Learned Societies Emerging Voices to not only support my research but provide resources and access to world-renown scholars who will assist in critiquing my pedagogy to better serve students through courses that focus on the history of civil rights, education, and resistance.”

 As Adkins moves into his fellowship, he will continue research into the history of black schools and the development and leaders of black institutions.

Featured image at top: Maurice Adkins at the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University campus. Photo/Markee Weaver of Dreamweaverphotography.


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