As a reflection from a commitment to diversity, the University of New Mexico has recently made two important hires of African American positions on main campus and at the Health Sciences Center. Brian K. Gibbs, a public health practitioner with 30 years of experience in health disparities reduction, has been appointed associate vice chancellor for the Health Sciences Center’s Office for Diversity and assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. Also, College of Arts & Sciences Dean Mark Peceny has announced the appointment of Robert Jefferson as director of Africana Studies. He assumes the role July 1.

Jefferson comes to UNM from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), where he was director of the African American Studies Program and an associate professor in the history department. "An accomplished scholar, Dr. Jefferson brings a wealth of experience, tremendous energy and innovative ideas for transforming the Africana Studies Program. He has already established contacts on campus and in the Albuquerque community," Peceny said. He will have a faculty appointment as an associate professor in History.

Besides African American history, his research and teaching interests include military, disability studies, 20th century United States history, and international relations. He is the author of “Fighting for Hope:  African American Troops of the 93d Infantry Division in World War II and Postwar America,” which was nominated for the 2009 William Colby Award. He is currently at work on a new book, “The Color of Disability:  Vasco Hale and Twentieth Century America.”

At the HSC, Brian Gibbs’ duties will focus on promoting inclusivity and diversity. He will also facilitate the general work of the Office for Diversity through goal setting, strategic planning, evaluation, engagement in HSC, campus, local, statewide, and national activities, and in the development of community collaborations. He has a faculty appointment as an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine.

"Our institution’s Vision 2020 strategic plan provides the perfect opportunity to reinvigorate and generate new practices that support the efforts of our leadership, faculty, staff, learners, and community partners,” said HSC Vice Chancellor for Diversity Dr. Valerie Romero-Leggott. “Collectively, we must translate our institutional values into action. Dr. Gibbs is preeminently qualified and will be a tremendous asset to the Health Sciences Center and communities throughout New Mexico.”

Prior to joining the UNM HSC, Gibbs was an assistant professor in the Department of General Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where he served as the associate dean for diversity and cultural competence.

Robert G. Frank, UNM President
Dr. Harold Bailey, Alliance of African American Groups