CofC celebrates its first Black female academic dean

Published: Feb. 18, 2022 at 12:28 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The woman who directed the College of Charleston’s African American Studies Program in 2017 made history last year.

Dr. Kameelah Martin was appointed in June 2021 by Provost Suzanne Austin to become dean of the CofC Graduate School. That historic appointment made Martin not only the first Black female dean of the Graduate School but also the college’s first Black female academic dean.

“It was completely unexpected. Never in my career change directory. Did I anticipate or even aspire to becoming a dean,” Martin said.

She says working with graduate students is a passion of hers.

Martin acknowledges she feels a great deal of responsibility in the role.

“First, I think about all of the other black women in particular who really had to blaze the trail in higher education, those who had to break the ceilings, those who had to be the first faculty member or the first administrator in a time that was probably a lot more hostile than it is now. So I think there’s a great responsibility just to recognize that other women had, other black women in particular, but women in general as well, had a great deal of obstacles to overcome in order for me to even come into this position,” Martin said. “So I feel a responsibility to acknowledge that I feel a responsibility to other aspiring black women who want to go into academic leadership.”

She said she also feels a responsibility to the college community, the alumni, current students, and her colleagues.

“I feel it’s, it’s a good weight, but it is a weight,” she said. “So I just want to make sure that, you know, I’m acknowledging the struggles, I’m acknowledging those that came before me, I’m acknowledging that I now have to give back in a lot of ways, but also I have to be an impactful leader, most of all. I have to, you know, lead this school and represent the college itself in a meaningful way. And so all of that kind of weighs on me as I think about the significance of this moment.”

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