Michael Eric Dyson Named to Faculty at Penn

PHILADELPHIA -- The University of Pennsylvania has announced the appointment of Michael Eric Dyson as Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities.

Dyson, 43, is currently the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Professor and Professor of Religious Studies at DePaul University. He has taught at the Chicago Theological Seminary, the University of North Carolina, and Columbia and Brown universities.

At Penn, he will teach courses in the Religious Studies department and in the Afro-American Studies program.

"Michael Eric Dyson is an incredible intellectual force. He contributes as a scholar to the academy and as an articulator of pressing social issues to society at large," said Penn President Judith Rodin. "I am delighted to welcome him to the Penn community where we embrace the application of knowledge for the public good."

Samuel H. Preston, dean of Penn's School of Arts and Sciences said "Through Professor Dyson's prodigious scholarship and dynamic public presence, he has advanced the dialogue on race relations both within the academy and without. He will bring enormous distinction to our African-American Studies program, the Department of Religious Studies and the Penn community."

Tukufu Zuberi, director of Penn's Afro-American Studies program, hailed Dyson's appointment as a clear example of Penn's commitment to the growth and expansion of African-American Studies.

"Professor Dyson's appointment is an initial step in the revitalization and expansion of the Afro-American Studies Program at Penn. This expansion also includes our move to new offices in the fall, the celebration of the 30th anniversary of African-American Studies at the University and the continued recruitment of scholars of the stature and prominence of Professor Dyson."

Dyson is a widely published author and lecturer whose books have won critical recognition for their scholarly depth as well as their mass appeal. His research focuses on the black church and on contemporary crises facing the African-American community.

He employs a new genre of scholarly composition which he terms "bio-criticism," the fusion of social criticism and cultural criticism, to inform his biographies of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

Dyson's most recent biographical book, the national best-seller "Holler If You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur," examines the controversies and contradictions in the life of the slain hip-hop icon.

Dyson is the author of five other books including the 1993 book "Reflecting Black: African-American Culture Criticism," which won the Gustavus Myers Center for Human Rights Award, and its 1994 follow-up, "Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X," which was named Notable Book of 1994 by both the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Dyson is a frequent commentator in the media, a weekly columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and a weekly radio commentator for Tavis Smiley's National Public Radio program.

He graduated from Carson-Newman College and earned his master's and doctoral degrees in religion from Princeton University. He is an ordained Baptist minister.