By John K. Schmid, AFRO Baltimore Staff
With the last day of the semester only one-month away, Dr. Aminata “Amina” Sillah, an assistant professor at Towson University, has settled into her tenure-track position at the school.
Sillah is the first Black woman on the track in the Towson College of Liberal Arts Political Science Department.
The offer and announcement of Sillah’s new position was made in 2017 when she was still under contract as a visiting professor.
“Day to day, it means a lot,” Sillah told the AFRO. “It means stability, it’s more stable. Now you know you’re on track , you don’t have to be looking and saying ‘where am I going next?’ This appointment is over, will it be renewed? You don’t have to worry about those other thoughts.”
But, the new position comes with more work and more responsibilities
“Now, you have a set number of students you’re gonna be advising,” Sillah said. “You’re on a lot more committees, a lot more boards.”
The tenure track also brings the demand to publish.
“I’ve been publishing and I will continue to publish, you do have to publish, you have to keep publishing within your field, or even outside your field, but you have to publish at all times,” Sillah said. “I encourage it.”
But, she’s not doing it alone. In addition to co-research with other academics, Sillah tells the AFRO she has the support of the department.
“The department is really awesome, I have a lot of mentors they’re always telling me ‘keep publishing, even though you have some publications under your belt, keep publishing. Don’t stop.’” Sillah said. “And that’s exactly what I’ll keep doing.”
Her most recent publication was a textbook chapter on civic engagement at the international level. Sillah’s contribution was a comparative study of The Gambia, her native country.
Now her eye has turned to Baltimore.
“I am actually working on a paper on gentrification in Baltimore,” Sillah said. “Can we actually gentrify, without displacing? So, I’m looking at that, but I’m looking at it from the perspective of community organizations. What are they doing to make sure people are not displaced?”
Baltimore’s particular struggles as well as its common struggles with other large cities provides both challenges and opportunities. It’s a ripe field to observe how top-level policy affects the daily lives of Baltimoreans.
“It’s fantastic, you have a lot of reach,” Sillah said. “It’s good and it’s overwhelming. You look at it and you look at the challenges and you know these challenges can be overcome, but it’s like, where do I start, who do I talk to? All of the things. There’s a lot to do in Baltimore, and there’s a lot of challenges.”
Along with advising and committee seats on campus, Dr. Sillah is looking to extend her work into the broader community, strengthening a Towson-Baltimore relationship she said.
“A lot more responsibilities, and challenges, but I’m looking forward to it,” Sillah said.
This reporter was a student of Dr. Sillah in 2017.