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Leonardo Villalón, Center for African Studies Director

Head of the CLAS

Leonardo VillalónLeo Villalón

Center for African Studies Director Leo Villalón hit the ground running when he arrived at UF in 2002. He had less than three months to prepare an in-depth, million-dollar grant proposal for the U.S. Department of Education's National Resource Centers funding program. "I wouldn't have come to UF if I hadn't thought African studies was well placed to receive the funding again," says Villalón. "UF has a longstanding program in African studies, and our goal now is to take it to new heights."

Villalón's intensive effort paid off in June 2003 when the DOE announced the Center for African Studies (CAS) had received another three-year grant, with $459,000 for the first year. In all, CAS received $1.4 million to support African language instruction, faculty hiring, research and outreach programs to secondary-school teachers, the center's annual Carter Lecture Series and graduate student fellowships. The center has applied again this year for the funding. “It's an intensive process,” explains Villalón. “But when the funding comes through, it's a mark of approval and excellence on our international programs.”

Villalón also is a faculty member in the Department of Political Science. Before coming to UF, he was an associate professor of political science at the University of Kansas and also directed the undergraduate major in international studies. While at Kansas, he received the Provost's Award for Leadership in international education. Villalón earned his BA from Louisiana State University and his MA from the School of Advanced International Studies at The Johns Hopkins University. He also received his DEA (Diplôme d'Etudes Approfondies) from L'Institut d'Etudes Politiques de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques in Paris in 1985 before earning his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in 1992, where he specialized in comparative politics and international relations.

As a Fulbright professor and visiting professor, Villalón has taught at two universities in Senegal and also has lectured at other institutions in a number of countries in West Africa. His research focuses on the politics of the former French colonies of West Africa, especially the Sahelian countries of Senegal, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. His work also has concentrated on the role of Islam in politics and on the processes of democratization

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