The College of Social Sciences offers an exciting range of majors, minors and certificates to prepare students for an ever-changing world.

This semester the college is welcoming Professor Thomas Ellis as the new Program Coordinator of our Africana Studies program. Ellis has been contributing to the success of Fresno State students since 1991 with research interests that include, but not limited to, African American Theatre and Film.

Ellis is most proud of being the first African American Fulbright Scholar posted at the National Taiwan University. He was the only black faculty member at the university at that time. While there, he directed “Golden Child,” a play by Asian American writer David Henry Hwang. He describes his time as the director as “trouble free with a healthy and creative environment.” To introduce Professor Ellis, we caught up with him with a few Q&As.

Question: How do you feel about leading the Africana Studies program?

Answer: My experience has taught me that leading a department, college or university is essentially a thankless job, serving many masters and rarely pleasing few. This program is the right size for my involvement, colleagues and personable, relatively conflict free, but most importantly sharing an immerse capacity for helping and fostering African American student growth and development. I have never worked with a team solely focused on this mission, which is a tremendous and exciting change of direction for me.

Question: What are you looking forward to?

Answer: Working on a few initiatives geared toward improving enrollment and interest in the program, furthering community involvement and maintaining a steady course until a more permanent coordinator can be placed.

Question: What is an interesting unknown fact about yourself?

Answer: As an undergrad, I was high hurdle college champion at the West Coast Relays here in Fresno, twice; NCAA All American in Track and Field; and held the record for the longest standing Track and Field record at California State University, Sacramento.

Ellis will teach African American Theatre in the spring and direct the musical “The Color Purple” at Fresno State, May 2019.