Stonehill College announces the appointment of Stanley Thangaraj, Ph.D., as the inaugural James E. Hayden Chair for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Social Justice effective July 1, 2022.  

In his new role, he will lead the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Social Justice, an interdisciplinary hub supporting faculty and student research that examines how race, ethnicity, and other categories of difference are infused in structures of power. 

“The goal of educating the whole person toward the creation of a more just society is fundamental to Stonehill’s mission and its commitment to academic excellence. The Center and the appointment of Dr. Thangaraj help us realize this important goal for the community,” said DeBrenna Agbényiga, provost and vice president for academic affairs.   

Thangaraj comes to Stonehill from the City College of New York, where he served as an associate professor of anthropology, gender studies, and international studies. He worked with students, staff, and faculty on a Gender Task Force that played a pivotal role in the creation of the LGBTQI Center on campus. He served as chair of City College of New York’s Faculty Senate Diversity Committee, facilitating anti-racist dialogue to help recruit and retain students and faculty of color while addressing issues of accessibility, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity. He was also an active member of the City University of New York Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. 

Thangaraj’s scholarship focuses on the ways in which race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, class and citizenship shape the experiences of immigrant and refugee communities in the U.S. South. His 2015 book, Desi Hoop Dreams: Pickup Basketball and the Making of Asian American Masculinity, investigates how South Asian American men express their identities and cultivate a sense of belonging in the United States through sports. He has also been interviewed frequently to provide insights on the experiences of the Asian American community, particularly Asian American athletes. 

Thangaraj earned a Ph.D. in socio-cultural anthropology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  He also holds a B.A. in anthropology and political science from Emory University and an M.A. in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago.  

“My commitment to studying race and practicing anti-racism is rooted in a steadfastness to social justice inside and outside institutions,” Thangaraj said. “I look forward to leading the Center by engaging with campus stakeholders and fostering partnerships dedicated to inclusive academic excellence.”   

The Center launched in fall 2021 and has been led by both a steering committee and a programming committee in its first year. These groups consist of faculty members across disciplines. Both teams played an instrumental role in conceiving the Center and in the search for the Hayden Chair.  

“I would like to thank the faculty, staff, and students who assisted in the search process and the launch of the Center as we welcome Dr. Thangaraj to campus. A forward-thinking scholar dedicated to interdisciplinary learning, he will prove instrumental in guiding the Center to promote public dialogue and critical inquiry through its co-curricular offerings, academic program, and research collaborations,” said Associate Professor of English Laura Scales, chair of the steering committee. 

The endowment of the James E. Hayden Chair for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Social Justice was made possible by a gift from Board of Trustees member Elizabeth Hayden ’76 and her children, Elizabeth ’04 and John, in honor and memory of James Hayden ’76. 

“I congratulate Dr. Thangaraj on his appointment. His knowledge and perspective will be invaluable as the Center undertakes collaborative efforts to research and examine societal inequities. I share my deepest gratitude for the Hayden family and their commitment to the vision of this important work and to the steering committee for their ongoing stewardship of the Center,” said Rev. John Denning, C.S.C., president of Stonehill College.