Centenary celebrates first Black tenured faculty member

As Centenary looks toward the milestone of its bicentennial in 2025, the College is marking another important and historic event. Dr. Andia Augustin-Billy, associate professor of French and Francophone Studies, was awarded tenure in February 2021, making her the first Black faculty member in Centenary’s 196 year history to achieve this distinction.

Centenary will mark Augustin-Billy’s historic tenure at a campus convocation, “196 Years to Tenure: Dr. Andia Augustin-Billy,” on Thursday, November 4, at 6:00 p.m. The event at the College’s Anderson Auditorium, featuring reflection, art, and song, is free and open to the public.

All attendees must provide either a Centenary ID, proof of vaccination, or proof of recent (within the last 90 days) recovery from COVID-19. All attendees must wear masks. The event will also be livestreamed via Facebook Live at centenary.edu/196years.

“We are so pleased to have this opportunity to recognize both Dr. Augustin-Billy’s scholarship and this moment in Centenary’s long history,” said Centenary president Dr. Christopher L. Holoman. “Like many institutions in the South, Centenary continues to work to tell the truth about its past and work towards justice in its present and future.”

Dr. Michael Hicks, assistant professor of education at Centenary, will serve as master of ceremonies for the convocation. Speakers include Holoman and Shreveport City Council member LeVette Fuller ’00, who will read a resolution honoring Augustin-Billy that was adopted by the Shreveport City Council on October 26. A photo gallery from the City Council presentation is available here.

Additional speakers are College archivist Chris Brown ’01, Marissa Ramsey ’21, and Centenary junior Kevin Brown, Jr., vice president of Centenary’s Black Student Union, who will introduce Augustin-Billy before her own remarks.

The convocation also incorporates and showcases student, faculty, and alumni talent at Centenary. First year student Channing Hall will perform a dramatic reading from “Falling Dusk, Rising Dawn,” a historical fiction short story written by senior Wendy Jimenez. Timothy McCoy ’18 and Dr. Janani Sridhar, assistant professor of music, will sing, and a temporary art exhibit by senior Hailey Ross will be on exhibit in Centenary’s Magale Library from November 4 through December 23, 2021.

Augustin-Billy joined the Centenary faculty in 2015 after earning her Ph.D. in French language and literatures from Washington University in St. Louis. Her ongoing research interests and published scholarship include analysis of race, class and gender, travel and migration in French and Francophone African and Caribbean literatures, as well as Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Augustin-Billy co-teaches an immersive course for Centenary students examining the experiences of Black Americans in Paris as part of the College’s Centenary in Paris program. She also teaches a yearly May Module course in Haiti, where she grew up as the daughter of missionaries.

Augustin-Billy was chosen for the prestigious Mellon Emerging Faculty Leaders Award in 2019 and was honored with the Harry Blake Education Award from Mt. Canaan Baptist Church in Shreveport in 2018 for her efforts to promote Black history and culture in the field of education.

“The fact that a Black woman has earned tenure at Centenary in 2021, and that the decision was based on merit, and not upon color, is certainly a cause for celebration,” said Augustin-Billy. “While elated, I am painfully aware that it has taken us a long time to get there and much remains to be done. This occasion should shed light on the urgency and necessity of having scholars and academics of color in U.S. colleges and universities to amplify and enrich students’ education, but most importantly, for the students to see the reflection of themselves in their professors.”

“196 Years to Tenure” is organized by the Centenary College Diversity Committee and generously underwritten by the College’s Attaway Professorships in Civic Culture Program. Light refreshments after the convocation have been generously donated by Sodexo. Passport Points are available for Centenary students who attend the convocation.

Picture of Paul Savage, Jr.

Paul Savage, Jr.

Paul Savage, Jr. is a graduate of Centenary College of Louisiana and is the owner, founder, & designer of Savage Creative Solutions. Savage Creative Solutions is a full-service, integrated marketing agency headquartered in Shreveport, LA with a growing national footprint across multiple industries. Savage is a local marketing and communication professional, entrepreneur, and accomplished author. His debut memoir, "Diary of A Testicular Cancer Survivor," has been featured on Amazon's best-seller list.

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