Cecil Abrahams Named Campus Provost for FDU-Vancouver

Vancouver, BC (June 29, 2009) — Fairleigh Dickinson University has named Cecil Abrahams as FDU-Vancouver Campus Provost effective July 1, 2009. A native of South Africa and a prominent opponent of apartheid, Abrahams spent nearly 30 years in Canada as a university professor and administrator. Since 2004, Abrahams has been a Visiting University Professor of English at Syracuse University.

"We are extremely pleased to welcome Dr. Abrahams to the FDU community," said Fairleigh Dickinson University President J. Michael Adams. "Our Vancouver Campus will benefit greatly from his incredible international experiences, the depth of his scholarship and his wide range of administrative skills."

Adams added, "We are particularly impressed by his commitment to our mission of preparing world citizens. Having been an international student himself, he knows well the great benefits of a global education, and he is passionate about leading a campus dedicated to international students."

Abrahams’ path to Fairleigh Dickinson University has taken him around the globe. Of Indian and European ancestry, he grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, and earned his bachelor’s degree from a Catholic college in Lesotho. While teaching high school English in South Africa, he became an anti-apartheid activist and colleague of Nelson Mandela’s in the African National Congress (ANC).

When he left the country in the mid-1960s to obtain a graduate degree in Canada, the government withdrew his citizenship and he was forced into exile. Abrahams launched his academic career and continued his anti-apartheid activism as a Canadian citizen before returning to South Africa in 1995 and later moving to the United States.

"I have always been active against injustice wherever I have lived," said Abrahams. "South Africa’s apartheid system dehumanized the vast majority of its citizens and my task to oppose it was fairly clear even though difficult. I have always believed in the seamlessness of life’s activities thus allowing my transformative nature to affect both my academic career and my contribution to making life better for all. It is in this spirit that I see myself contributing to FDU’s laudable global mission to make our world a better place for everyone."

In Canada, Abrahams taught English at the University of New Brunswick and Bishop’s University in Quebec. He helped establish an ANC office in Montreal and became a leading scholar and promoter of studying African literature at North American universities. In 1987, he became academic vice president and provost at Acadia University, Nova Scotia, and then served Brock University, Ontario, as dean of humanities.

Abrahams returned to South Africa in 1995 as vice chancellor of the University of the Western Cape. Abrahams faced financial and academic challenges at Western Cape, taking the reins of the university during the country’s transition from white domination to a democratic system. He was able to institute changes that transformed the university.

In 2001, Abrahams joined the faculty of the University of Missouri-St. Louis as Distinguished Professor of Higher Education and International Studies, and then moved to Syracuse University in New York where he taught and conducted research in the English department and school of education. He is the author or editor of more than 10 books and 150 articles, chapters and reviews in international journals.

Abrahams earned a master’s degree in English at the University of New Brunswick (1965) and a Ph.D. in English at the University of Alberta (1977). He has received honorary degrees from the State University of New York at Albany and from the Université de la Réunion in France.

Abrahams is married to Montreal born teacher Rosemary Gwyn and they have four children who are actively involved in education and artistic endeavors in Canada and South Africa.

About FDU-Vancouver

Fairleigh Dickinson University’s fourth campus, located in downtown Vancouver, offers bachelor degree studies in business administration and information technology for students who want careers in today’s competitive global marketplace. In small, supportive classes, students interact directly with professors to get a deeper understanding of course material that large universities can’t always provide.

Accelerated degree programs, generous scholarships, internship opportunities and internationally recognized degrees help students get ready for a whole new world.

For Immediate Release

Fairleigh Dickinson University


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