College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities; Community, Engagement, Belonging and Access

William McCoy named interim director of Clemson University Pan African Studies


William McCoy, pictured, recently was appointed interim director of Pan African Studies.
William C. McCoy recently was appointed interim director of Pan African Studies. Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

CLEMSON — William C. McCoy has been appointed interim director of the Pan African Studies program in the Clemson University College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities.

In addition to this new role, McCoy will continue his duties as director of the Rutland Institute for Ethics at Clemson.

“I welcome William C. McCoy to our college and look forward to building upon the Pan African Studies program here at Clemson University,” said Dean Richard E. Goodstein. “Our program offers insights into many facets of our world and our humanity, past, present and future; and on a local, national and international scale.”

Pan African Studies is an interdisciplinary degree program that explores the social, economic and political contributions that people of African descent have made to global society and examines diverse cultures around the world.

“The program looks at the African experience from a multitude of perspectives,” McCoy said. “That includes perspectives from the United States, Africa and Latin America.”

Diane Perpich, director of the college’s interdisciplinary programs, said it emphasizes unrecognized achievements and little-known parts of history in addition to examining past challenges. “We also look to the future,” she said.

International perspective

Priority No. 1 for McCoy will be to expand the program. Students at Clemson can pursue a major, minor or double major in Pan African Studies.

William McCoy, pictured, speaks to an audience at the conference on Lincoln at Clemson University.
William McCoy, a dynamic public speaker, recently addressed an audience at a Clemson University conference on Abraham Lincoln. Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

“I’m really excited about the opportunity of growing the program,” said McCoy, who officially assumed leadership of the program on May 16.

McCoy, a dynamic public speaker, plans to reach out to other academic disciplines to encourage students to consider a minor or double major in the program.

Pan African Studies offers an international perspective for students who will face a competitive global economy in the future. A double major in Pan African Studies complements such areas of study as politics, business, education, the sciences or the humanities, McCoy said.

Business students also benefit from learning about Africa because its countries are important developing markets in the global economy, Perpich said.

A Pan African Studies background is particularly useful for students who want to take a leadership role in the growing number of diversity initiatives in the American workplace, McCoy said.

An education in Pan African Studies also bolsters such flexible work skills as creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking, McCoy added.

McCoy met recently with Roy Jones, director of the Clemson College of Education’s Call Me MISTER program, which aims to boost the number of African-American teachers in K-12 schools.

“There’s a perfect opportunity for double majors in the two programs so that future teachers can better understand their own background and help their future students understand their background,” McCoy said.

McCoy plans to meet with Clemson Head Football Coach Dabo Swinney to explore possible collaborations between athletics and Pan African Studies.

New classes

McCoy also plans to add new courses to Pan African Studies. Classes being considered for the fall, 2019 semester or next year would look at racial violence, the African diaspora and depictions of African-Americans in the media.

“We want to give students a strong reason to come here,” McCoy said. “We want to lay out a good programmatic scheme that will benefit all students.”

McCoy wants to expand the Pan African Studies steering committee, an advisory group that consists primarily of Clemson staff and faculty. He would like to add alumni, community members and Pan African Studies students to the committee.

“We need to always know the voice of the student,” McCoy said.

A passion for teaching

Even as he leads two Clemson programs, McCoy will teach a graduate-level course in the fall for the College of Education: “Diversity in Higher Education.”

“Teaching students is my passion,” McCoy said. “Any opportunity I have to teach does a lot for me personally.”

McCoy joined Clemson University as the director of the Rutland Institute in March 2018. Previously, McCoy was the director of ethics education and diversity initiatives for the College of Business at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. McCoy has a bachelor’s degree in English from Northern Illinois University, a master’s degree in continuing and vocational education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Ed.D. in education administration from Edgewood College, also in Madison.

McCoy sees opportunities for synergies between Pan African Studies and the Rutland Institute. “It’s an ideal opportunity for Pan African Studies to collaborate,” McCoy said.

For example, the institute’s annual Ethics Day celebration in October will feature a talk by prominent African-American business owner Valerie Daniels-Carter, who leads the largest female-owned restaurant franchise company in the United States. McCoy hopes to involve Daniels-Carter in Pan African Studies classes during her visit.

As interim director, McCoy follows Abel Bartley, the founding director of Pan African Studies and a full professor in the history and geography department at Clemson. Pan African Studies was first offered as an academic minor in 2006 and then, in 2014, as a major.

“I’m genuinely thankful for Dr. Bartley’s leadership and vision,” McCoy said.

For more information on Pan African Studies, please contact Dr. McCoy at or 864-656-6147.

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