Dr. Sydney Freeman Jr. — a man who is a direct descendant of slaves — has become the first African American man to earn the rank of full professor at the University of Idaho, reports Afro Tech in conjunction with CBS News.
Freeman achieved the full professorship at the University of Idaho in five years and seven months on a tenure track. Most professors take an average of 10 to 12 years to achieve the rank of full professor, if they’re even lucky to get on a tenure track.
“If we want to see Idaho grow and be more inclusive, we have to bring that inclusion in and so it’s important for us to not only have conversations about it but actually invest in diversifying faculty and staff but also retaining them,” Dr. Freeman said.
While Dr. Freeman is the first African American to earn the title of a tenured professor at the University of Idaho, there have been other Black men — of African descent — who have achieved this feat, such as Ethiopian native Dr. Wudneh Admassu, who was the first person of African descent to earn the rank of full professor at the University of Idaho. In 2019, Professor Shaakirrah Sanders became and remains the only Black woman to earn the rank of full professor at the University of Idaho.
These celebrations, however, are just surface celebrations — because statistically, only 5 percent of all full-time faculty members at colleges and universities in the United States are Black.