University community mourns political science professor, co-founder of African-American studies James Barnes


The Ohio University community mourns Professor James Franklin Barnes, who died at the age of 87 in Albuquerque, NM on March 2.

Barnes enjoyed a three-decade career at Ohio University. He was a professor of political science at the College of Arts and Sciences from 1968 to 1996. He was instrumental in establishing the African American Studies program (now the Department of African American Studies) as a discipline at OHIO. He was chair of the department and dean of African American studies from 1972 to 1977 and later of the department of political science.

Professor Francine Childs said Barnes was responsible for bringing her to Ohio University in the 1970s along with a host of other black professors who became the nucleus of African American studies. She added that he was a brilliant scholar, leader and friend.

“Jim Barnes was the best friend I ever had at OU. I came here in 1988 as part of OU’s greatest infusion of African-American faculty and staff,” Jessie Roberson said. , professor of management at the OHIO College of Business. “President (Charles) Ping and Provost (James) Bruning challenged units to find capable black people who could bring depth and breadth to the university’s commitment to diversity. Jim Barnes helped make it a place where we could make a living.

“He was a friend and a mentor. He was the one who got me to work with people outside of the College of Business, where my education and experience could be useful to other parts of the university. witnessed at my wedding and did more than anyone to make Athens a welcoming place for my wife and daughter.His support has helped me and my wife, Roberta, build careers within the faculty. I loved him very much. He will be greatly missed,” added Roberson.

“The students loved chatting with him”

Roberson described Barnes as “a friend and mentor to countless students and faculty, helping them find their way through sometimes difficult and turbulent times. He was a gifted scholar, author, and teacher, renowned for his depth , his spirit and leadership.”

“Jim Barnes was one of my favorite colleagues. I enjoyed his sense of humor and his laughter, his insight, his calmness. The students loved talking to him and he made time for them,” Patti said. Richard, Professor Emeritus Administrator of Political Science. Science.

“Jim was a historic figure on campus as the second dean of African American studies. He was an excellent teacher and an active researcher with a deep interest in French culture and politics and Francophone Africa,” said Lysa Burnier, professor of political science. , said. “He was committed to diversity when he was department head. Jim was a good colleague and we shared many conversations about books, movies and music.”

Barnes’ research included writing “Gabon: Beyond The Colonial Legacy” (Westview Press, 1992) and co-editing “The World Of Politics” (St. Martin’s Press, 1984) and “Culture, Ecology, and Politics in Gabon’s Rainforest” (Routledge, 2001). He has also translated a work by Bonaventure Mvé Ondo from French, published under the title “Wisdom and Initiation in Gabon: A Philosophical Analysis of Fang Tales, Myths and Legends” (Lexington Press, 2013).

During his tenure at OHIO, Barnes spent two years working for NATO and one year as a Fulbright Scholar in Libreville, Gabon (1983-84) and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (1989- 90). After his time in Athens, Barnes served Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina from 1996 to 2016 in a variety of administrative and teaching roles, primarily in the Department of Government and Forensic Studies at ASU and also as a college mediator, before retiring after a 52-year career in academia and moving to Albuquerque.

Born October 5, 1934, Barnes grew up in many places, including Petersburg, Virginia, and Oberlin, Ohio. He graduated from Oberlin High School and St. Emma’s Military Academy. After serving in the United States Army, he earned several political science degrees from The Ohio State University, a BA in 1960, an MA in 1961, and a Ph.D. in 1971. He also served as a foreign service officer in Paris, France, from 1965 to 1967.

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