A new study away opportunity for student-athletes will be offered this year as a Maymester course in Los Angeles. The course, Networking and the Art of the Pitch, was developed by Rachel Dubrofsky, chair of communication and rhetorical studies (CRS)…
University Remembers Professor Emerita and Scholar Mĩcere Gĩthae Mũgo
Mĩcere Gĩthae Mũgo, professor emerita of African American studies in the College of Arts and Sciences and an internationally known scholar, teacher, activist, poet and playwright, died June 30 in Syracuse.
Mũgo joined the Syracuse University community in 1993. A Meredith Professor of Teaching Excellence, she served as chair of the Department of African American studies, co-director of the University’s Africa Initiative, founder and president of the Pan African Community of Central New York and founder and president of the United Women of Africa organization.
In her first year, she taught a class in orature, the first in Syracuse and one of the first of its kind in the United States. Mũgo employed song, poetry, dance and drama to teach lessons on human rights.
“Mĩcere served as a guiding light in the humanities and in University leadership, tirelessly connecting the academy to the community. Central to this endeavor was literature and African orature, or African oral culture as an Indigenous site of foundational and experiential knowledge,” said Herbert Ruffin II, associate professor of African American studies, in a post on the Department of African American Studies website paying tribute to Mũgo. “Using this approach, Mũgo seamlessly intersected Pan African studies with the arts, literature, social justice and women and gender studies in her lifelong pursuit to improve the human condition by making ‘scholarship…an agent for social transformation for all people, not just the privileged.'”
Mũgo had a lasting impact on the students she taught and mentored. David Mwambari G’10, associate professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences at KU Leuven University in Belgium, was one of Mũgo’s teaching assistants at Syracuse. “She trained me to think of students as human beings who are still growing and need my guidance and compassion,” he told the College of Arts and Sciences Magazine last year. Mũgo also created space for him to talk about his personal struggles and traumatic issues from his experiences during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and its aftermath. “Professor Mũgo gave me the skills to be human and always remember that others are human, and therefore to live and teach with a touch of grace,” Mwambari said. “It was this touch of grace and compassion that inspired me to start a community project that healed my traumas.”
Mũgo was key in bringing Nobel Prize laureates Wole Soyinka and the late Wangari Maathai to Syracuse. She was invited to address the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations, and was the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2012 Distinguished Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Scholar Award and the prestigious Flora Nwapa Award for Excellence in Africana Literature.
Mũgo’s retirement in 2015 was marked with a two-day symposium, “A Tireless Pursuit,” that celebrated her global impact and drew participants from around the world.
Prior to coming to Syracuse, Mũgo held leadership positions at the University of Nairobi, where she served as the first female dean of an African university, and the University of Zimbabwe. She also held faculty positions at Cornell and St. Lawrence universities.
Mũgo is survived by her daughter, Mũmbi wa Mũgo, and siblings, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her daughter, Njeri Kũi Mũgo.
Memorial Service Information
All are welcome to attend the memorial service for Mũgo in Hendricks Chapel on Saturday, July 29, at 10 a.m.
Parking will be available in lots across campus on a first come, first served basis. Visit parking.syr.edu for information and direction. With questions about the service or for accommodations, please call 315.443.2901 or email email@example.com.