AHA Member Spotlight: Reginald K. Ellis
Reginald K. Ellis is an associate professor of history and assistant dean for the School of Graduate Studies, Research and Continuing Education at Florida A&M University. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida, and has been a member since 2008.
Alma maters: BS, Florida A&M University; MASS, Florida A&M University; PhD, University of Memphis
Fields of interest: African American, black colleges, black college presidents during the Jim Crow era
Describe your career path. What led you to where you are today?
Upon earning my PhD, I was hired as an assistant professor of history at Florida A&M University. I was actively researching Dr. James E. Shepard, the founding president of North Carolina Central University. Through that research, I gained a deeper appreciation of black college administrators and the purpose of black colleges in general. Therefore, my path into administration really began with my research on black college presidents during the Jim Crow era.
What do you like the most about where you live and work?
Tallahassee is a great place to raise a family. Although the capital city of one of the largest states in the union, Tallahassee is a true college town—which still feels small enough for the residents to deeply involved in the community.
What projects are you currently working on?
My current research is a long-term project that investigates the role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) played in the development of the black middle and professional class.
Have your interests evolved since graduation? If so, how?
My research interest have maintained since earning the PhD. My understanding of the subject has greatly expanded, however.
Is there an article, book, movie, blog etc. that you could recommend to fellow AHA members?
I am currently reading a book by Dr. Jelani M. Favors, entitled Shelter in a Time of Storm: How Black Colleges Fostered Generations of Leadership and Activism. To gain a historical understanding of the impact of HBCUs, this is a great study to consider.
What do you value most about the history discipline?
The skills of a historian are transferable. In my new role (now in my third year) as the assistant dean for the School of Graduate Studies, Research and Continuing Education, I utilize the skills that I gained as a historian on a daily basis. Particularly, I often utilize my analytical skills to solve tough issues, while also employing my communications and research skills throughout my work day.
Why is membership in the AHA important to you?
As the premier historical organization, it is vital for historians throughout the nation to hold membership with the AHA to ensure that the historian’s voice is heard and protected.
Do you have a favorite AHA annual meeting anecdote you would like to share?
Since I have been an active member of the AHA, the organization has made a concerted effort to be more inclusive to faculty members who work at HBCUs. Therefore, one of my fondest memories from an annual meeting actually occurred last year in Chicago, when there was a reception held for HBCU faculty and alum.
AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, Perspectives Daily features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.
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