Warren Carson Awarded Carolina Trustee Professorship for Lifelong Career at University of South Carolina Upstate

May 18, 2017 at 2:05 pm

Dr. Warren Carson, senior associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and chief diversity officer and Title IX coordinator, is one of those rare individuals who has made a strong and lasting impact on the lives of thousands of individuals whose lives he has touched during his lengthy career at the University of South Carolina Upstate. Carson has built an incredibly successful career as a teacher, scholar, administrator, and also his extensive and compassionate service reflects positively not only on him, but also on USC Upstate, and the entire USC system.

It seems only fitting that Carson was awarded the Carolina Trustee Professorship in May, which is awarded to a tenured full professor who demonstrates a record of teaching excellence and outstanding performance in research and in public service activities.  He is the second USC Upstate professor in a row to receive this high honor.

Carson has served in virtually every imaginable capacity with great dignity, quiet strength, integrity and skill. He has held virtually every academic position at USC Upstate including department chair, assistant dean, interim dean, interim vice chancellor, chief diversity officer, Title IX coordinator, and 25 wonderful years as the director of the Gospel Choir.

Carson’s unquestionable excellence in teaching has shaped USC Upstate’s English majors, future English teachers, and students of African American studies in a range of majors for over two decades. His courses often prompt hallway discussion among students who are often exposed to powerful texts of the African American literary for the first time. Carson sets high standards for his students and inspires them to reach those standards. Students learn to write eloquently, to read analytically, and to think in fundamentally new ways in his courses.

“I have long been a teacher at heart and was perhaps even born with a passion for teaching,” said Carson. “What I have felt, what I have learned, and what I know, is that you meet students where they are and provide them with a pathway to success. It makes no difference if the student is an adult returning to complete a high school diploma a college student pursuing a degree. The joy comes when you see them well on their way, and the crowning joy comes when you witness that they know when they have arrived at the place where they need to be.”

As a scholar, Carson is clearly a distinguished mind and a force of change and progress in the field of African American literature. The level and quality of his contributions to his discipline, his profession, his community and his students is unparalleled and he has played a significant role in advancing the discipline of literature in general, and African American literature in particular. His research and writing have been primarily in the areas of African American Literature, specifically of the writers of the Harlem Renaissance. He has published articles on Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, and James Baldwin, among others. Despite Carson’s significant professional achievements and activities, he somehow has managed to find time to engage in genuine and extensive service to his community.

“Dr. Carson has raised the consciousness of his community regarding the realities of inequality and intolerance, as well as the power of education to help overcome some of society’s barriers for those who have been marginalized or overlooked,” said Dr. Celena Kusch, chair of the Department of Languages, Literature, and Composition at USC Upstate.

Nationally, he has served as president of the College Language Association, founding secretary of the African American Literature and Culture Society, chair of the College Board’s Development Committee for English Literature and Composition, and chair of the CLEP Composition Development Committee.

“All of these activities inform my teaching in countless ways, not the least of which is the ability to remain current in the field and having a sense of the current pulse of academic inquiry,” said Carson who also has a long history of public service activities, many of which have extended over the course of decades.

During the last three years, he has served as member and secretary of the Board of Trustees of St. Luke’s Hospital, a small critical access hospital in Columbus, NC; president of Roseland Community Center, Inc., Tryon, NC; chair of the Eastside Citizens Advisory Committee, Tryon, NC; member of the Board of Directors of the Thermal Belt Outreach Ministries, Columbus, NC, and a number of ad hoc committees for various causes in additional to a robust list of service activities to the profession.

“Dr. Carson is a leader both in the field of African American literature and in higher education more broadly,” said Kusch. “His work with the Advanced Placement (AP) program has further inspired excellence in teachers throughout the United States and abroad. Dr. Carson has brought tremendous attention to USC Upstate throughout his tenure here, and his professional reputation has reflected positively on our institution as well.”