stained glass window

One of the stained-glass windows designed by Leonard Gadzekpo.

November 15, 2021

SIU awards fellowships to promote faculty ethnic diversity

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale has awarded fellowships to two faculty members in conjunction with ongoing efforts to foster diversity on campus.

Leonard K. Gadzekpo and Raymund E. Narag were recently named Judge William Holmes Cook Fellows. The late Cook is an alumnus of SIU who had a long and distinguished legal career. Every three years the university awards two fellowships to minority tenure or tenure-track faculty members in Cook’s name. The Cook estate endows the fellowships in order to increase and maintain racial and ethnic diversity at SIU. The endowments fund research and related travel, scholarly work and other faculty endeavors.

“We are pleased to present these fellowships to support some of our outstanding faculty members in their special areas of study and inquiry,” said Paul Frazier, vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion.  “Dr. Gadzekpo and Dr. Narag are esteemed researchers and exemplary classroom leaders and we appreciate the generosity of the Judge William Holmes Cook family in endowing these fellowships to support SIU’s diverse faculty.”

Gadzekpo has eclectic experience

Gadzekpo-sm.jpgGadzekpo is an associate professor and interim chair of the School of Africana and Multicultural Studies. His writing and research focuses primarily on comparative study of Africana history and culture. In addition, he is involved in creative activities, including curating exhibitions, which are rooted in Africana history and culture and in examining the Africana culture from a global perspective. 

Born in Cote d’Ivoire, Gadzekpo grew up in Ghana and has both studied and taught in numerous locales. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Science and Technology in Kusami, Ghana, and taught in Ghana and Nigeria. He worked as an artist, creating religious art pieces for four years for the St. Stephanus Katholische Gemeinde in Oldenburg and studied at Universität Mozarteum Salzburg and at Salzurg Universität, both in Austria. He also did graduate studies at Bowling Green State University, completing master’s degrees in German and painting and a doctorate in American Culture Studies. In addition, he studied intercultural pedagogy at Carl Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg.

Gadzekpo’s art has been exhibited in Africa, Europe and America. He designed stained-glass windows for the Warren A.M.E. Church in Toledo, Ohio; created triptychs and alter pieces for St. Stephanus Katholische Gemeinde; made a mural for the St. Thomas Catholic Church in Kumasi and more. He is creating a series of paintings reflecting the Africana experience in the world. Prior to coming to SIU, Gadzekpo taught at the University of Maine.

Gadzekpo said he is honored to receive the Cook Fellowship as it will “afford me an opportunity to engage in research and creative activities. It also gives me the support to travel with students on study abroad programs to Ghana, Germany and Poland as I expose them to fieldwork, multicultural experiences and the diversity of the human experience.”

He notes that in this way, the Saluki experience is coming full circle because his students will become SIU alumni and benefit from the legacy and example of Judge Cook, who graduated from SIU.

Narag is a criminal justice expert

Narag2-sm.jpgNarag, an associate professor in Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice in the School of Justice and Public Safety, is often cited as an expert in his field. Originally from Tuguegarao City in the Cagayan province of the Philippines, Narag was detained in the Quezon City Jail for seven years before being declared innocent of any crime. He pursued an advanced education and combined his education with his first-hand experiences to conduct research and work to bring about positive change.

Narag earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Philippines. He then went on to complete his master’s and doctoral degrees in criminal justice at Michigan State University through a Fulbright scholarship.

His ongoing research focuses largely on correctional and judicial policies and practices in Southeast Asia, particularly in the Philippines, and how these policies and practices can lead to pre-trial detention, prison overcrowding and extremist violence. His study specializations also include criminal victimization, youth violence, wrongful persecution and detention and trial delays.

He regularly visits the Philippines to train and mentor people involved in the correctional and court system. His recent publications include “Inmate Radicalization and Recruitment in Prisons” (with Clark Jones) and “Behind Bars in New Bilibid Prisons.” He has been a faculty member at SIU since 2012 and previously taught at the University of the Philippines and was a graduate assistant at Michigan State University.

Narag said he is “very excited and thankful for this fellowship” which he will utilize “to conduct trainings for court actors in the Philippines (judges, prosecutors, and defense lawyers). I developed a mechanism to monitor court calendar hearings, which can determine cases at risk of court trial delays, a perennial and pernicious problem affecting the Philippine court system. It is expected that this training module will revolutionize the court management systems, especially in the highly congested court dockets in metropolitan Manila and other highly urbanized cities in the Philippines.”

He said the fellowship also will provide additional opportunities for him to write and publish about the issues of pretrial detention and court docket congestion.