College names inaugural Edmundite Graduate Fellows

Jolivette Anderson-Douoning comes from Purdue, Rafiqur Rahman from Catholic University, with sparkling credentials, impressive scholarship in Black studies

January 22, 2021
Faculty/staff report

Saint Michael’s President Lorraine Sterritt today had the following exciting announcement for the College community about the naming of the two inaugural Edmundite Graduate Fellows:

Dear members of the Saint Michael’s family,

I am thrilled to announce that the search for our inaugural Edmundite Graduate Fellows is complete, and that two very accomplished African-American scholars will be joining our community in the 2021-22 academic year. Jolivette Anderson-Douoning, of Purdue University, will be a fellow housed in the History Department, and Rafiqur Rahman, of the Catholic University of America, will be a fellow in the Religious Studies Department. Their academic records are remarkable, and, after conversations I had with each last week, I am certain that our community will embrace these fellows both as delightful people and excellent scholars. I was extremely touched by their exuberant response when I called them to offer them the positions.


Jolivette Anderson-Douoning

Jolivette Anderson-Douoning is currently a PhD candidate in the American Studies program at Purdue University. Her dissertation, “LOUISIANA LEARNING: Race-Space Geographic Education and the Creation of Black Cultural ‘Place’ in Shreveport’s Hollywood Neighborhood on Ledbetter Street 1945-1985,” addresses how African-Americans have lived in five “Black Spaces,” as she identifies them, using a variety of historical and cultural research methods. Ms. Anderson-Douoning brings to Saint Michael’s a wealth of experience and expertise as a classroom and community educator, including 15 years in administration and instruction at Purdue University, working in the Purdue Black Cultural Center and teaching courses in American Studies, Communication, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She is a graduate of Louisiana Tech University and holds master’s degrees both from Purdue and from Grambling State University.

Rafi Rahman

Rafi Rahman

Rafi Rahman is a PhD candidate in the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, and he is simultaneously pursuing a ThM degree in Black Catholic Church Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana. He has deep academic interests in comparative theology, Black Church Studies, and interfaith dialogue and reconciliation, and his dissertation is entitled, “The Role of Race in Two Muslim Communities in Cleveland.” Mr. Rahman’s bachelor’s degree is from Case Western Reserve University, and he holds an impressive array of graduate degrees, including a Master of Divinity in Black Church Studies from Emory University, an MA in Museology from Johns Hopkins University, and an MPhil in South Asian Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. He is also a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and is an active part of the veteran community at Catholic University.

The fellows will teach one course and present one public lecture drawn from their research each semester. Our intellectual community will be much richer for their presence, and we very much look forward to many opportunities to know them better as teachers, as scholars, and as colleagues. Likewise, we hope to give every manner of support possible to their efforts to complete their dissertations, secure permanent academic positions, and share their scholarship with broader audiences. Our community, especially the host departments, can play an invaluable role at a critical moment in these academics’ professional journeys.

Likewise, the opportunity to bring two BIPOC scholars to our campus will, as the founding description of the program states, certainly enrich the learning that takes place in and out of our College’s classrooms. Bringing more underrepresented voices to our academic community will deepen our shared conversations immeasurably, and a more diverse faculty can also empathize with and address the challenges BIPOC students face on campuses like Saint Michael’s where they are in the minority. We are firmly committed to identifying and implementing more measures like the Edmundite Fellows program that will meaningfully diversify our faculty and staff.

I thank Dr. Margaret Bass for the idea to create this program, and I thank her and the members of the Racial Justice Task Force that she chairs for their devoted work designing the Fellows program and collaborating with academic departments and partners across campus to launch this significant effort. I am grateful to all departments and programs that submitted an application to host Fellows in the program, and especially to the departments of History and Religious Studies for the commitment they are making for the coming year to welcome and mentor their respective Fellows as they complete their dissertations, prepare for the academic job market, teach, and take part in the rich academic life of our College.

Please join me in celebrating this joyful milestone for this exciting new program. I know we will all look forward to welcoming Ms. Anderson-Douoning and Mr. Rahman to campus this fall.


Lorraine Sterritt

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