The University of Pennsylvania has appointed Herman Beavers as faculty director of Civic House and the Civic Scholars Program. The announcement was made by Provost Wendell Pritchett and Vice Provost for Education Beth Winkelstein.
Beavers has taught at Penn since 1989 and is a professor of English and Africana Studies, a distinguished poet, and a widely published scholar of 20th-century American and African American literature, especially the novels of Toni Morrison, the traditions of jazz and jazz writing, and the work of 20th-century Southern writers. He received the 2017 School of Arts & Sciences Dean’s Award for Mentoring Undergraduate Research in recognition of his legendary attention to advising Penn students, and he was elected that same year as a commissioner of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Beavers has been a leader in extending scholarship and teaching into the Penn community. His Academically-Based Community Service course on August Wilson was awarded the first Community Engagement Award from the Netter Center for Community Partnerships. This ABCS course brings together Penn undergraduates with West Philadelphia residents, Veterans Upward Bound participants, and Sayre High School students to read Wilson’s plays and write performance pieces, based on interviews with local community members, which are then performed by local Philadelphia actors.
“Herman Beavers,” said Pritchett, “is the ideal faculty leader to advance Penn’s vital civic engagement programs in the years ahead. His wide range of experience exemplifies our highest ideals for engaging Penn students and scholarship with our community, creating a richer experience for everyone involved. We are indebted to the pioneering work of Professor Walter Licht, founder of the Civic Scholars program in 2006 and faculty director of Civic House since 2002, who will step down from his responsibilities at Civic House at the end of this academic year, while continuing his landmark scholarship as Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History.”
Beavers earned a Ph.D. and M.A. from Yale University, an M.A. in Creative Writing from Brown University, and a B.A. from Oberlin College.
Civic House is Penn’s hub for civic engagement, promoting mutually beneficial collaborations between Penn and Philadelphia community nonprofit organizations. Through social justice education, trainings and workshops, Civic House prepares students for responsible community engagement and empowers them to become advocates for social change. The Civic Scholars Program at Civic House provides undergraduate students with a sustained four-year experience in civic engagement and scholarship, including dedicated proseminars, summer internships, and a capstone senior research project.