Stacey Close, interim associate vice president for equity and diversity at Eastern Connecticut State University, has been named one of the 100 most influential African Americans in Connecticut by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The Connecticut NAACP will hold a press conference at the Omni Hotel in New Haven, at noon on Dec. 21 to recognize the honorees. Derrick Johnson, Mississippi NAACP state conference president, will be the keynote speaker at the event.
"We are very proud of Dr. Close for receiving this honor," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "Stacey is a noted scholar in the field of African Studies and was one of our most popular professors during his time teaching history on our campus. As the associate vice president for equity and diversity, he is now providing leadership in Eastern's efforts to maintain our reputation as an inclusive, multi-cultural campus."
A native of Georgia, Close has worked in higher education for more than 20 years. A professor of history, Close received his Ph.D. and M.A. from Ohio State University and a B.A. from Albany State College in Georgia. He has taught courses on African Americans, African History and Southern History. In addition, he has presented at such conferences as the Southern Conference on African American Studies, Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, and the Professional and Organizational Development Network.
"Dr. Close is an integral part of the Easter Connecticut State University team and we congratulate him on being one of the NAACP's most influential black leaders in Connecticut," said Gregory Gray, president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education. "We applaud Dr. Close for his commitment to higher education and ensuring that Connecticut's students achieve excellence."
On Eastern's campus, Close has served as chairperson for the Department of History, Political Science, Philosophy and Geography; director of the Center for Educational Excellence; and NCAA Faculty Athletic Representative. He has served on such committees as the Promotion and Tenure Committee, AAUP-Minority Recruitment and Retention Committee and Athletics Advisory Committee.
Close's students have been accepted to graduate and professional schools such as Loyola University in Chicago; SUNY-Albany; University of Massachusetts-Amherst; Ohio State University; Boston University; and Quinnipiac Law School. A believer in mentoring and supporting students outside the classroom, he has served as the advisor for student clubs such as Eastern's Nubian Society and West Indian Society. Over the years, Close has also worked with Men Achieving Leadership and Excellence (MALES).
Close has served as a co-conference and forum organizer for the New York African Studies Association, Connecticut African American Summit and the Dr. John Hope Franklin Symposium at Trinity College. He has published with journals and presses such as the Griot, Journal of Negro History, Garland Publishing, Connecticut Explored and Guilford Press.
Close is a contributing editor for African Americans in Connecticut Explored, which will be published in January 2014. In addition, he frequently lectures and presents on the Black Hartford freedom struggle. In 2011-12 Close received the prestigious honor of being an American Council on Education Fellow. Some of his other honors include Eastern Connecticut State University's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award; Student Club Advisor of the Year; Eastern's Faculty Teaching Award; Who's Who Among American Teachers; and the Hartford Courant Magazine's 12 Hot Professors Award.
"I am touched and honored to receive this recognition with these very prestigious people," said Close. "It is thanks to Eastern, my colleagues, faculty members and staff."