Frances B. Sellers Award
Honoring the memory of the first administrator of Drew’s E.O.S. program, the recipient, not necessarily of E.O.S., personifies the ideals of the Educational Opportunity Scholar program and has contributed significantly to his or her community.
Christopher Chambers C’91
Christopher Chambers C’91 expects a lot from the students he teaches at Northeastern University in Boston. He gives tough readings and asks tough questions.
Based on comments from his students, his teaching methods are successful. “I absolutely admire you as a professor,” one student wrote in a recent email. “You are always engaging my peers and myself in thought-provoking conversations, challenging our pre-conceived notions, and offering us great texts to read.”
Chambers teaches courses in sociology and African-American studies, covering topics like race and ethnic relations; race, class and gender; and race and social identity. He is also the head faculty adviser for undergraduates in Northeastern’s sociology department.
“I am most proud that I am capable of making an impact on those who I teach,” says Chambers, who is finishing up his second year at Northeastern.
As an undergraduate at Drew, Chambers saw himself working for the U.S. State Department one day. A political science major and student government vice president, he came to Drew as a transfer student largely because of the United Nations semester. But when he worked as a resident adviser, he was inspired to follow a career path working with college students instead.
A master’s degree in student personnel management from the University of Maryland accelerated Chambers’ career in student affairs. As he moved from positions at Maryland to Dartmouth, he found himself continually leading programs for students, faculty and staff on the topic of diversity. It left him wondering: why didn’t diversity training facilitate change in an institution? He questioned what he was doing and why; he questioned how universities did diversity work. He wasn’t seeing a transformation, and that frustrated him.
Simultaneously, Chambers enrolled in a sociology class at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. “I discovered that sociologists were asking those same types of questions,” says Chambers. “Sociology offered a raw honesty that appealed to me. It offered an opportunity to think a lot about the structures and systems. In that moment, I saw where I needed to be.”
He went on to earn graduate degrees in sociology from the University of Florida and from Texas A&M, studying under one of the most renowned scholars of race in the field of sociology, former American Sociological Association president Dr. Joe Feagin. Campbell’s doctoral dissertation—“Reclaiming Blackness: Narratives of Racial Kinship in Black Gay Men’s Sexual Stories”—was completed in 2010.
Chambers credits his time as an undergraduate at Drew with making him who he is today. “When I came to Drew, I became enamored with its more progressive communities of people,” he recalls. “I saw people who knew who they were, people with integrity. It was exactly what I wanted to have, and it allowed me to come out of my shell and begin to define myself. I wouldn’t be the person I am without Drew.”
He fondly recalls two Drew professors—Bill Messmer and Doug Simon—for inspiring him, demanding that he do his best and having faith in him; he also is grateful for the then-assistant director of student activities, Pat Peek, someone, he says, “who could help you locate a miracle when you needed one.”