Prof Paul Zeleza
Honorary Professor

Paul Tiyambe Zeleza is currently Associate Provost and the North Star Distinguished Professor at Case Western Reserve University after serving as Vice Chancellor (President) and Professor of the Social Sciences and Humanities at the United States International University (USIU) in Nairobi, Kenya from 2016-2021. Prior to that he held distinguished academic and administrative positions as college principal, center director, department chair, college dean, and academic vice president in Canada and the United at Trent University, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Pennsylvania State University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Loyola Marymount University, and Quinnipiac University.

He received his bachelor’s degree (with distinction) at the University of Malawi, master’s at the University of London in Britain, and PhD at Dalhousie University in Canada. He started his academic career at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica in 1982 followed by Kenyatta University in Kenya. In the early 2000s, he worked as a consultant for the Ford and MacArthur foundations on their initiatives to revitalize higher education in Africa. His research project on the African academic diaspora conducted for the Carnegie Corporation of New York in 2011-12 led to the establishment of the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program in 2013 that has to date sponsored more than 600 African born academics in the United States and Canada to work with dozens of universities in nine African countries.

An interdisciplinary scholar, his work covers the fields of African economic history, development studies, intellectual history, diaspora studies, gender studies, human rights studies, cultural studies, and literary studies. He has published more than 400 journal articles, book chapters, encyclopedia entries, reviews, short stories, and online essays and authored or edited 27 books and five short monographs. Several of his books have won international awards including the 1994 Noma Award for Publishing in Africa for A Modern Economic History of Africa, Vol I: The Nineteenth Century (1993). In 2021 he published Africa and the Disruptions of the 21st Century. His forthcoming books include, Reenvisioning African and American Universities (2023), and The Chronicles of African University Leaders (2024), a volume of reflections by former vice chancellors of some of Africa’s leading universities. He has published two collections of short stories and an acclaimed novel that is being turned into a movie.

A much sought-after speaker, he has presented over 300 keynote addresses, papers, and public lectures at leading universities and international conferences in 32 countries. He has also served on the editorial boards of more than two dozen journals and book series. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Bibliographies Online in African Studies. He has received numerous awards from major universities and various organizations for his scholarship. In July 2013, he was recognized in The New York Times as one of 43 Great Immigrants in the United States. In May 2015, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws at Dalhousie University for outstanding personal achievement. In 2015, he was a fellow at Harvard University during which he wrote The Transformation of Global Higher Education, 1945-2015 (2016). In 2018, he received the Thabo Mbeki Award for Leadership. In 2022, he was awarded the W.E.B. Dubois Fellowship at Harvard to work on The Long Transition to the 21st Century: A Global History of the Present.

He has held the positions of Honorary Professor at the University of Cape Town since 2006 and at the Nelson Mandela University since 2019. He has served in more than two dozen international and national associations, most recently on the Administrative Board of the International Association of Universities, the Advisory Board of the Alliance for African Partnership, University of Ghana Council, Chair of the Advisory Council of the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program, and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Kenya Education Network. In 2008-2009, he served as President of the U.S. African Studies Association. He has raised tens of millions of dollars for institutional advancement and personal research. He is most proud of the $63.2 million grant from the Mastercard Foundation USIU received in 2020 to provide scholarships for 1,000 students from across Africa for ten years.