Africana Studies Professors Maria McKenna, Richard Pierce tapped to lead AnBryce Scholars Initiative

Author: Erin Blasko

Maria Mckenna And Richard Pierce

Maria MckennaMaria Mckenna

Maria McKenna and Richard Pierce have been appointed co-directors of the AnBryce Scholars Initiative at the University of Notre Dame, a scholar leaders program supporting first-generation college students who demonstrate great promise in the face of challenging life circumstances.

McKenna is an associate professor of the practice for the Education, Schooling and Society Program and the Department of Africana Studies.

She has a doctor of philosophy in educational foundations. Her research interests include qualitative research methodologies with children, youth empowerment and the social, philosophical and cultural contexts of American education.

Pierce is an associate professor of history in the departments of history and Africana studies who specializes in the urban experience of African Americans.

Richard PierceRichard Pierce

He has a doctor of philosophy in history. His research lies in the political economy of race and race relations in the Midwest, particularly in Indianapolis during the 20th century, and in efforts at wealth development and entrepreneurial opportunities. He serves on the advisory board of Concrete Rose, a fund that economically supports minority- and women-led companies.

“Professors McKenna and Pierce are award-winning and highly respected scholar-teachers whose engagement of students within and beyond the classroom at Notre Dame is legendary. I am confident that under their joint leadership AnBryce will continue to grow and flourish,” said Rev. Hugh Page Jr., vice president, associate provost and professor of theology and Africana studies at Notre Dame.

Established in 2013 with support from the AnBryce Foundation, the AnBryce Scholars Initiative welcomes first-generation Notre Dame students into a family of mentors and scholars as they work to develop their leadership potential in service of the world. 

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Contact: Erin Blasko, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-4127,

Originally published by Erin Blasko at on August 20, 2019.