Ogundiran receives First Citizens Bank Scholars Medal

Monday, March 22, 2021

Akin Ogundiran, a Chancellor’s Professor and professor of Africana Studies, Anthropology and History,  is the 2021 recipient of the First Citizens Bank Scholars Medal, UNC Charlotte’s most prestigious faculty award, in recognition of excellence in research. He was honored at a special Zoom ceremony on March 18. 

Ogundiran is a renowned archaeologist and transdisciplinary scholar-teacher who has consistently used diverse research methods in the humanities, social sciences and physical sciences to study African and African Diaspora history, with an emphasis on the Yoruba civilization. 

“Dr. Ogundiran is an agenda-setting scholar whose scholarship has profoundly transformed the study of African history,” said Rowland Abiodun, John C. Newton Professor of Art History and Black Studies at Amherst College. “I do not know of too many scholars of Black Studies anywhere whose work on African history has been as influential as [his].”

Nancy Gutierrez, dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at UNC Charlotte, said, “Dr. Ogundiran has an outstanding record of teaching and mentoring both undergraduate and graduate students here at UNC Charlotte. He is committed to student success and always finds a way to integrate his students into his research projects, allowing them to gain invaluable experiences and skills.” 

His research has been funded by the Carnegie Foundation, Dumbarton Oaks, Social Science Research Council, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Geographic Society, American Institute of Archaeology and American Philosophical Society. 

“Dr. Ogundiran has contributed cutting-edge research that changed and broadened our understanding of African archaeology and history and African Diaspora Studies. His scholarship has a high impact on scholars, students and the general public,” said Julia Jordan-Zachery, professor and chair of the Africana Studies Department at UNC Charlotte. 

In addition to his roles at the University, Ogundiran is editor-in-chief of the African Archaeological Review and a visiting professor of archaeology and anthropology (pro bono) at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. In the local community, Ogundiran has collaborated with several organizations, including the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture and the Mint Museum. Adding to his accomplishments, he has consulted for the World Bank, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Congressional Offices on archaeological heritage and cultural policy issues. 

“Dr. Ogundiran is a top-notch scholar whose research contributions over the arc of his career have been unflaggingly insightful, richly contextualized and uniquely enhanced by his commitment to transdisciplinary inquiry,” said Ann B. Stahl, professor and Distinguished Lansdowne Fellow at the University of Victoria. “He is adept at combining critical reflection on epistemology with a discussion of grounded examples that make his arguments accessible to audiences of varied disciplinary backgrounds.”

Ogundiran earned a Ph.D. in Archaeological Studies from Boston University; he completed a master’s degree from the University of Ibadan and a bachelor’s degree from Obafemi Awolowo University, both in Nigeria.

The First Citizens Bank Scholars Medal shines a spotlight on the University and the accomplishments of its faculty and their impact in the local community, throughout the state, across the country and around the world. 

“It’s a great privilege for us to recognize Dr. Ogundiran for the immense contributions his research is having within the fields of Africana studies, anthropology and history,” said Kristi Stevenson, senior vice president and manager of retail banking at First Citizens Bank. “His scholarship is truly impacting and influencing scholars, students and the community.”

Past recipients of this award have influenced scholarship in many disciplines, including history and sociology, art and education, biology, psychology, anthropology, engineering and political science.