John Baugh, Ph.D., a well-known African-American linguist and education expert, will be the inaugural holder of an Arts & Sciences endowed professorship named in honor of prominent civil rights attorney and emerita trustee Margaret Bush Wilson.
Baugh, author of Beyond Ebonics: Linguistic Pride and Racial Prejudice, a significant piece of work on the Ebonics controversy, has also been named director of African and Afro-American Studies and professor of psychology, both in Arts & Sciences. In addition, Baugh will hold appointments in the departments of Anthropology, Education and English, all in Arts & Sciences.
“We are fortunate to recruit John Baugh to Washington University,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “He is an exceptionally accomplished academic leader, and we are grateful to have a person of his stature become the director of African and Afro-American Studies.
“John Baugh becomes the inaugural holder of a new endowed professorship named in honor of Margaret Bush Wilson, a long-serving member of the Board of Trustees and a key leader in the movement to assure civil rights for all Americans. I value very much John Baugh’s commitment to contributing to the advance of Washington University by joining its leadership team.”
Baugh previously served for 14 years as professor of education and linguistics at Stanford University. After earning earned a bachelor’s degree in speech and rhetoric from Temple University in 1972, he earned master’s (1976) and doctoral (1979) degrees in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania.
Baugh’s most recent work is on identification of the race of speakers from characteristics of their voices during telephone conversations, a process he termed “linguistic profiling.” Important policy implications about discrimination in housing can be drawn from this research; Baugh received a Pioneer of Fair Housing award in 2004 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for his work in this area.
“John Baugh is a scholar of international reputation,” said Edward S. Macias, Ph.D., executive vice chancellor, dean of Arts & Sciences and the Barbara and David Thomas Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences. “He has been an award-winning teacher. He has excellent administrative skills. We look forward to his active leadership of the African and Afro-American Studies program and in many other parts of Arts & Sciences.
“I think it is very fitting and appropriate that he be named the inaugural holder of the Margaret Bush Wilson professorship. Margaret was a strong leader in the Civil Rights Movement and has been actively involved in the University community for many years.”
Baugh is a founding member of the National Science Foundation’s National Advisory Committee to the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences and past president of the American Dialect Society.
He has written several widely acclaimed books. Baugh’s first major research contribution was Black Street Speech: Its History, Structure and Survival in 1983. This work examines how many African-Americans negotiate on a daily basis through several distinct linguistic traditions, much as do bilinguals living in a society where several languages are spoken.
Baugh has published two other major works: Out of the Mouths of Slaves: African American Language and Educational Malpractice in 1999 and Beyond Ebonics: Linguistic Pride and Racial Prejudice in 2000.
In Beyond Ebonics, Baugh debunks many commonly held notions about the way African-Americans speak English and provides a balanced portrayal of a difficult subject.
The New Yorker called Beyond Ebonics a “lucid new study” in which “Baugh argues that the good intentions of the Oakland school board were frustrated by elastic definitions of Ebonics that ultimately undermine its scientific validity.”
Wilson was a prominent civil rights attorney in the 1960s and the first woman to chair the board of directors of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Throughout her professional career, she has broken many barriers as an African-American woman.
Born in St. Louis at the end of World War I, Wilson managed a St. Louis law firm, now Wilson & Associates, for more than 40 years. She was the second woman of color admitted to practice law in Missouri.
Wilson earned a law degree from Lincoln University. She served on WUSTL’s Board of Trustees from 1978-1987. She is a charter member of the Arts & Sciences National Council.
Wilson’s professional experience includes serving as assistant attorney general of Missouri.
She is past chair of the NAACP national board of directors, having served nine terms in that office.
She is past board chair of two historically African-American institutions, Saint Augustine’s and Talladega colleges, and has also served on numerous boards for national companies and nonprofit organizations.