James A. Wilson, Jr., Ph.D. is an Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and the Director of the Honors Program at Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU). He joined the ranks of the Academic Affairs Division at PVAMU in September of 2009. Prior to accepting this position, Dr. Wilson was a professor in the history department at the University of Texas at Austin, specializing in the political history of Kenya, British colonialism, and post-colonial African affairs as it relates to globalization. Dr. Wilson also researches and teaches courses that examine the social and political history of African women and gender discrimination during the colonial era in East and Southern African countries, as well as the History of HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Dr. Wilson received his Ph.D. in History from Princeton University in 2002 and immediately began his academic career at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In addition to his Ph.D., Dr. Wilson holds a Master’s of Arts degree in History from Princeton University, a Master’s in African and African-American History from Cornell University, and a Certificate in African Languages from the University of Florida. From 1999 to 2000, Dr. Wilson was a research fellow at Oxford and Cambridge Universities in England as well as the University of Nairobi in Kenya. Dr. Wilson received is undergraduate degree in Political Science and English from the University of Texas in Austin in 1984. Every year the Alumni Association at the University of Texas recognizes four UT Alumni with the “Outstanding Young Texas Exes Award,” and Dr. Wilson was one of the 2004 recipients.
During his short time at PVAMU, Dr. Wilson has established and enhanced foreign language and study abroad opportunities for students to study Chinese and Arabic at PVAMU. He opened a Confucius Institute on the campus in April of 2014, and launched a partnership with Xi’an International Studies University (XISU) in Xi’an China, where every summer 25 Honors students study advanced Chinese at XISU for six weeks. Dr. Wilson has sent PVAMU Honors students to Ghana, South Africa, Korea, China, Morocco, France, and Italy. In addition to his work on international affairs, in 2010 he developed a leadership and mentoring program for young African-American men on the PVAMU campus known as B.L.A.C.K. (Brothers Leading and Cultivating Knowledge). With ten founding student leaders, Dr. Wilson developed this organization and identified faculty and administrators to serve as mentors to 100 Black male students. He then established a sister leadership organization (Purple Jackets) for outstanding young female student leaders. Both organizations serve as official PVAMU student host and hostess.
For over 25 years, Dr. Wilson has travelled extensively throughout the African continent and the world. His love for the study of African history and culture began during his tour with the U.S. Peace Corps in Kenya from 1985 to 1988, where he taught English and African literature at Kitumbi High School located 7,000 feet in the mountains of Taita Hills, Kenya. Dr. Wilson has personally assisted 60 candidates to apply and become Peace Corps Volunteers, and many of them were people of color and his former students.