Anthony “Kwame” Harrison, an associate professor of sociology in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, has been named the Gloria D. Smith Professor of Black Studies by Virginia Tech President Tim Sands and Executive Vice President and Provost Thanassis Rikakis.
The Gloria D. Smith Professorship in Black Studies was established in 1997 by then Virginia Tech President Paul Torgersen with funds from the Athletic Association. The professorship, named in honor of the late Gloria D. Smith, a counselor and advocate of minority students on campus before her retirement, is awarded for a period of two years to an outstanding faculty member who contributes significantly to the growth and development of minority students, student athletes, and scholarly pursuits. The honoree also oversees the Gloria D. Smith Speaker Series and makes at least one university-wide presentation during his or her tenure.
Harrison has held the title of Gloria Smith professor since 2014.
A member of the Virginia Tech community since 2003, Harrison has been deeply engaged in the university’s Africana studies program. His involvement in faculty searches, work on the program’s executive committee, efforts at recruiting graduate students, mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students, and initiation and support of program activities have made him an invaluable resource to students and colleagues.
Harrison’s scholarship and reputation in popular music studies and ethnography have brought considerable visibility to the Africana studies program and the university. In 2015, Harrison received Virginia Tech’s Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching, and he continues to inspire students to exceed their own expectations for learning, intellectual development, and personal growth.
During his first two years as the Gloria Smith professor, Harrison organized several programs, ranging in topics from popular music to workers’ rights to black women’s issues and sexuality, presenting the campus and community with opportunities to explore the breadth of black experience in Africa and the United States.
Harrison is a member of the American Anthropological Association, International Association for the Study of Popular Music, National Council for Black Studies, Southern Sociological Society, and Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Syracuse University.