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UM English Professor Receives Carnegie Fellowship

Adetayo Alabi, assistant professor of English, will spend this summer developing courses at Kwara State University in Nigeria. He is a Carnegie-Mellon Exchange Scholar. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

A University of Mississippi professor has received a prestigious Carnegie fellowship to help with curriculum development at a Nigerian university.

Adetayo Alabi, associate professor of English, was awarded the funding by the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program. He will spend the summer at Kwara State University in Malete, Nigeria, assisting Mary Kolawole, chair of English and dean of KSU’s postgraduate school.
“Professor Kolawole and I will review the curriculum of the English department, teach their postcolonial and world literature postgraduate program, and be involved in graduate student and early career training and mentoring,” Alabi said. “We will also facilitate workshops on graduate admissions, career progression and publishing in North American universities and carry out research in African literatures and cultures.”
Alabi’s achievement speaks to the high caliber of the department’s faculty, said Ivo Kamps, UM chair and professor of English.
“Professor Alabi is one of our more experienced faculty members, and as a native Nigerian, it should be relatively easy for him to share his knowledge about curriculum development with the faculty at Kwara State University in Nigeria,” Kamps said. “It’s wonderful that Professor Alabi is willing to give of his precious time over the summer to help improve education in his home country.”
The goal is to review and expand the graduate program curriculum in the Department of English at Kwara State to align it with best global practices, Alabi said.
“The fellowship allows me to train and mentor Kwara State graduate students and early career staff in my research areas and facilitate the students’ research, publishing and international exposure,” he said. “It will also enhance education and research collaboration between the University of Mississippi and Kwara State University following a memorandum of agreement signed by both institutions in 2015.”
Alabi earned his doctorate in English from the University of Saskatchewan, master’s degrees from both the University of Guelph and the University of Ibadan and a bachelor’s degree from Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Nigeria. His teaching and research interests include postcolonial studies, literary theory and autobiographical genre in comparative black studies.
A respected author, he has written several books and articles. His publications include “Telling Our Stories: Continuities and Divergences in Black Autobiographies” (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2005), “I of the Valiant Stock: Yoruba Bridal Chant and the Autobiographical Genre,” “Yoruba Creativity: Fiction, Language, Life and Songs” (Africa World Press, 2005), “When a Mouth Is Sweeter than Salt: Toyin Falola and the Autophylographical Genre” (Africa World Press, 2005) and “Theorizing Blackness.’Marvels of the African World: Cultural Patrimony, New World Connections and Identities'” (African World Press, 2003).
The Kwara State University project is among 43 projects that will pair African diaspora scholars with one of 35 higher education institutions and collaborators in Africa to work together in the coming months. The Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program, in its fourth year, is designed to reverse Africa’s brain drain, build capacity at host institutions and develop long-term, mutually beneficial collaborations between universities in Africa, the U.S. and Canada.
It is funded by Carnegie Corp. of New York and managed by the Institute of International Education in collaboration with U.S. International University-Africa in Nairobi, Kenya, which coordinates the activities of the advisory council.
Some 282 African Diaspora fellowships have been awarded for scholars to travel to Africa since the program’s inception. Fellowships match host universities with African-born scholars and cover the expenses for project visits between 14 and 90 days, including transportation, a daily stipend and the cost of obtaining visas and health insurance.
For more information about UM’s Department of English, visit https://english.olemiss.edu/.

By: Edwin Smith
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