Dr. Charles E. Becknell Jr. named Director of Africana Studies

June 26, 2017

College of Arts & Sciences Dean Mark Peceny appoints Dr. Charles Becknell, Jr. as director of Africana Studies. He assumes the role July 1. Dr. Becknell earned his B.A. with a concentration in Africana American Studies at UNM in 1993. After graduating from UNM he worked in Washington, DC as a Legislative Intern for Senator Jeff Bingaman where he assisted in the development and passage of the Technology for Education Act of 1993. Following his stint on Capitol Hill, Dr. Becknell earned an M.A. in Criminal Justice Administration from Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA (a Historically Black College and University). After graduating from CAU, Becknell worked as an investigator/mitigation expert for the Capital Defender Office in Rochester, NY, where he assisted in the representation of indigent defendants facing capital charges.

Becknell ultimately relocated to New Mexico and started his academic career at the University of New Mexico as a Research Assistant with the Center for Regional Studies investigating 18th–20th century African American social and family history and biographies and later, completed his Ph.D. in UNM’s College of Education in 2008, with a dissertation focused on the history of the program he will now direct. Dr. Becknell went on to earn a Post Doctoral Diversity Fellowship at the University of New Mexico’s Division for Equity and Inclusion, which later earned him the position of Special Assistant to the Vice President for Equity and Inclusion.

Dr. Becknell has taught undergraduate courses in Africana Studies, most recently as a Lecturer III, and graduate courses in the College of Education. His leadership, teaching and research is guided by Africana Studies framework and methodology, which draws on an expressed commitment to using acquired knowledge and skills in the service of humanity. In a few words he concluded, “My teaching philosophy challenges me to continually be aware of what I am leading and teaching people to become. Ultimately, I expect those who I lead to use their acquired skills and knowledge to challenge unethical social norms.”

As the new Director of the Africana Studies Program at the University of New Mexico, Dr. Becknell encourages stakeholders to partner with Africana Studies to strengthen the program, expand its growth, and to meet the programmatic needs of its students.