Stanford’s Vaughn Rasberry has been named faculty associate vice provost for graduate education. He will begin his tenure at the start of the 2022-23 academic year in September.

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Stanford VPGE

Stanford’s Vaughn Rasberry has been named faculty associate vice provost for graduate education.

“What excites me about the position is the opportunity to support and advance graduate education at a particularly challenging moment,” Rasberry said, noting the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “I believe graduate education is worth fighting for. It’s made all the difference in my life and in the lives of other people I know, particularly first-generation and minority scholars, like myself.”

Rasberry is an associate professor of English. He studies African American and African diaspora literature, postcolonial theory, and philosophical theories of modernity. He also teaches in collaboration with the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE) and the programs in Modern Thought and Literature, African and African American Studies, and American Studies.

As associate vice provost, he will advocate for graduate students at the highest levels of the university. This will include working on initiatives focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion; advising and mentorship; supporting students and researchers in the humanities; and co-chairing the faculty advisory committee within the Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education.

“Professor Rasberry is a distinguished scholar with a strong commitment to his field,” said Stacey Bent, vice provost for graduate education and postdoctoral affairs. “He is also a highly respected educator who cares deeply about the lives and training of graduate students. I am confident that he will bring leadership that will help move graduate education at Stanford forward.”

As associate vice provost, Rasberry said he’ll prioritize developing and strengthening the relationships between graduate students and faculty, and work to bring graduate education in closer alignment with Stanford’s IDEAL Initiative. He also hopes to find ways to support the increasing desire among students to impact real-world problems with their research.

“I believe that our students are undertaking profoundly important research with real consequences in the world, and I think that we need to connect our students’ research and the production of knowledge with the problems confronting our world today,” he said.

After more than two years of remote teaching due to the pandemic, Rasberry recently returned to the classroom for in-person instruction. He said that he is impressed with how the campus community has improvised during these challenging times.

“Students, in particular, have been very creative and resilient in the way that they have produced alternatives to more conventional research methods,” he said. “However, I do believe we need to be particularly attentive to those whose work has been halted during this time, since many students may not find creative solutions to the interruptions wrought by the pandemic.”

He said that while the university is recovering, it’s important to remember that many campus community members, particularly students, remain in survival mode.

“One doesn’t just return from survival mode unscathed. So I still think we have to focus on well-being and create the conditions that will enable students to flourish,” he said.

Rasberry is a native of Los Angeles. He completed his undergraduate studies at Howard University, a historically Black college in Washington, D.C., and his doctoral studies in English at the University of Chicago. As a Fulbright Scholar, he moved to Germany to teach at the Humboldt University of Berlin. He arrived at Stanford in 2008 to teach in the former Introductory to Humanities (IHUM) program, and the following year he joined the Department of English. He was an Annenberg Faculty Fellow at Stanford from 2012-14 and has received fellowships from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Humanities Center at the University of Pittsburgh.

Rasberry is the author of Race and the Totalitarian Century: Geopolitics in the Black Literary Imagination, which questions the notion that desegregation prompted African American writers and activists to acquiesce in the normative claims of postwar liberalism. He’s written numerous articles and essays about geopolitics, American history, and Black culture and politics.

A scholar of literature, Rasberry said that he is inspired by the works of such writers as Gwendolyn Brooks, Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, Frantz Fanon, and W.E.B. Du Bois. He is currently reading the work of Abdulrazak Gurnah, the winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in literature.