University of Idaho Promotes Its First Black Male to Full Professor

At just 36 years old, Dr. Sydney Freeman Jr. has made history, becoming the first Black man promoted to a full professor at the University of Idaho.

Typically it takes faculty members about 10 to 12 years to become a full professor at the university. But  Freeman achieved the title in just five years and seven months, Because of Them We Can reported. After graduating from Auburn University in 2011 with a degree in higher education administration, Freeman worked as the director in the Teaching and Learning Center at Tuskegee University for three years.

He entered the University of Idaho as an associate professor on the tenure track and took to Twitter in March to share the big news on his historical promotion.

“Humbled to share that I will be the 1st African American (American Descendant of Slaves) man to be promoted to rank of Full Professor at the University of Idaho, the state’s flagship research university,” he wrote with an accompanying photo of himself wearing a “Full Professor” t-shirt.

“I earned this rank in 5 years and 7 months on tenure track.”

Now the HBCU alum hopes his promotion sparks a wave of schools bringing on more educators of color.

“If we want to see Idaho grow and be more inclusive, we have to bring that inclusion in, and so it’s important for us to not only have conversations about it but actually invest in diversifying faculty and staff but also retaining them,” Freeman told CBS 2 Idaho News.

Dr. Freeman succeeds Dr. Wudneh Admassu, an Ethiopian native who was the first person of African descent to become a full professor at the University of Idaho. Professor Shaakirrah Sanders is still the first and only Black woman to become a full professor at the University of Idaho, Idaho News reported.

However, there is still a long way to go for more inclusivity. African Americans make up only 5 percent of all the full-time faculty members at colleges and universities in the United States.