McWilliams holds a Ph.D. in African-American Studies from Temple University and is a SUNY alumnus, having graduated from Stony Brook University in 2002.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to serve as the Interim Chair of the Department of Black Studies at SUNY New Paltz, one of the oldest Black Studies departments in the nation,” McWilliams said. “Black Studies as a discipline changed the trajectory of my life and I believe that it has the potential to do the same in so many others. In times such as these, I believe the impact of Black Studies is significant and its contribution toward racial understanding is invaluable.”
A specialist in history and literatures of liberation theology, Black nationalism, masculinity, and Afro-centric Theory, McWilliams is the author of multiple peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, as well as the book “The Kingdom at Hand: Black Theology, The Pan-African Orthodox Christian Church and Their Implications on the Black Christian,” published by Outskirts Press in 2016.
He comes to New Paltz after teaching for nearly a decade in the History, Government, and Economics Department at Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie, New York.
Prior roles include teaching positions at Stony Brook University and Cheney University in Cheney, Pennsylvania, and directorship of Lotus Academy Elementary School, a private, African–centered institution in Philadelphia.
“I am delighted that Dr. McWilliams has decided to join us, and I look forward to the vibrant energy and passion for Black Studies that he will bring to the department and campus,” said Laura Barrett, dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. “I want to express my gratitude to Dr. Michael Gayle for his dedicated leadership and strong advocacy as interim chair of Black Studies for the past three years.”
The SUNY New Paltz Black Studies Department was founded in 1969 with a mission of education that guides students and faculty to this day. It includes providing students with an accurate and thorough treatment of the history of people of African ancestry; examining the impact of current economic, social and political forces that shape the Black experience; and helping engender in students and community members an understanding of the unique issues faced by people of African ancestry in the modern world.
New Paltz Black Studies graduates have gone on to use their degrees as the foundation of careers in law, political science, history, sociology, education and the arts, among other fields and professions.