STARKVILLE, Miss.--Like Mississippi State University, the National Association for Ethnic Studies embraces a tradition of research and scholarship related to the study of ethnicity and race.
"How fitting that the association is now housed at the university," said NAES Vice President Ravi Perry, also an MSU assistant professor of political science and public administration.
Perry's father was a founding member of the association, and he was a graduate-student representative while pursued his academic degrees. After being elected vice president, he and organization President Ron Scapp agreed the association could benefit and expand by moving to the South after long tenures at postsecondary institutions in the Midwest and West.
"Being at State increases the presence of the organization and creates a direct opportunity for community members, both in the university and the community, to engage in an organization with which they share their values," Perry explained. "This is the first academic institution in the South that we've ever called home.
"That's a testament to the commitment of the university to diversity and diversity education."
Scapp recently visited MSU and agreed that the 135-year-old land-grant institution is an appropriate place to encourage greater understanding of race and ethnicity.
"The thing that I'm most excited about having our organization housed here is the collaboration that the two institutions can pursue," Scapp said. "The real focus is bringing our organization that next level of visibility while honoring its commitment to the study of ethnicity, race and social justice. Mississippi State University can supplement and complement those goals."
Membership is open to anyone interested in ethnicity, race and diversity.
"Many of our members are community leaders, non-profit leaders -- people who engage in social justice on some dimension of race and ethnicity, peripherally or directly," Perry said. "We are not a typical academic association that's only for academics."
He credited MSU administrators for offering the support necessary to bring NAES to MSU: Provost and Executive Vice President Jerry Gilbert, College of Arts and Sciences Dean R. Greg Dunaway, and Political Science and Public Administration Department Head K.C. Morrison.
NAES publishes Ethnic Studies Review, a peer-reviewed multi-disciplinary international journal devoted to the study of ethnicity, ethnic groups and their cultures, and inter-group relations.
Morrison said MSU's opportunity to become leading editor for the publication was a major reason he and his fellow administrators felt the association would complement the university's missions of learning, research and service. MSU will provide the resources, equipment and staff to create an accommodating environment for NAES.
"Ethnic studies is really important to us because we are building a collection in political science and public administration, and in African-American studies, of scholars who are doing important work on racial studies," Morrison said. "Editing this journal will bring greater exposure to that; we're delighted to have the university's name on the masthead of the journal.
"It reflects the scope of the College of Arts and Sciences in general, and that's where we want to see the institution go."
MSU is among the most diverse schools in the region and enrolls the most African-American students in the Southeastern Conference, which includes institutions from South Carolina to Texas and Florida to Arkansas and Kentucky, Morrison said. NAES is now housed in an area where people are talking and thinking about ethnic and racial study.
"Universities have a social obligation to ensure the diversity of the student body and ensure that the curriculum provides ample opportunity for students to study the many cultures and backgrounds that make up the United States of America," Perry said. "Mississippi State will continue the study of race and ethnicity as the world is only getting more diverse."
Perry said he is extending a personal invitation to MSU students and faculty, as well as interested members of the community, to join the association. For more information, include a link to enroll, visit http://ethnicstudies.org.