“A people without knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots.” Marcus Garvey
African American Studies
Dr. Saundra Curry Ardrey
Associate Professor & Department Head
Ph.D., Ohio State University: Associate Professor - Political Behavior, American Government, minority and women's politics.
Also serving as Department Head for Political Science and Director of WKU's African-American Studies Department.
In her twelfth year as chair of the Political Science Department and Director of the African American Studies Program, Dr. Saundra Curry Ardrey is the only African American department head at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Dr. Ardrey specializes in voting and electoral behavior, conducts research on the political participation of women and minorities and has made contributions to the extant literature through publications on the political beliefs and behavior of African Americans. Her areas of expertise focus on the impact of race on politics and the role gender plays in vote choice and participation. Other interests include African American Studies, media and politics, campaign management and public opinion.
A graduate of Winston-Salem State University and The Ohio State University, she is recognized as a media analyst for both local and state media outlets. In addition to University teaching and administrative responsibilities, Dr. Ardrey is active in state and local politics and community activities. She has been a campaign manager, a member of the Democratic party executive committee, president of the Bowling Green/Warren County NOW, and currently serves as the political action committee chair for the Bowling Green/Warren County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Active in her discipline, Ardrey served as president and as executive secretary of the Kentucky Political Science Association, the first African American to serve in both those positions. She is a member of the American Political Science Association Women’s Section Committee.
As one of the co-founders and co-directors of the WKU Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility, Dr. Ardrey believes that one of the goals of education is to equip students with the knowledge, sensitivity and skills they need to be productive citizens in a diverse society. To ensure students gain those skills, Ardrey works to establish experiential learning experiences and study abroad opportunities. She established The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars (TWC) at Western Kentucky University and serves on TWC national Advisory Board. She served as a faculty teaching fellow for several Republican and Democratic Nominating Conventions from 1988 – 2012.
Saundra Ardrey is well known around the WKU campus for the “study away” and study abroad opportunities she creates for students. Her trips are varied yet have a common theme. Whether students trace the Underground Railroad from Montgomery to Canada, explore the roots of modern jazz from the deep South to Carnegie Hall or develop a service learning project with villagers in Elmina, Ghana – the purpose is always the same – to create an appreciation for and sensitivity to non-European cultures.
She is a faculty leader and coordinator for study abroad programs to Ghana, Trinidad and Tanzania. In addition to several faculty led study abroad programs, she has travelled and studied in China, Egypt, England, France and Italy.
One of her greatest achievements in the international arena is organizing and coordinating the first ever Africana/African American Studies Conference in Turkey at Bilkent University. This 2008 conference featured students, scholars, performers, and artists from around the world engaged in a discussion of the achievements of and challenges still facing descendants of the African diaspora.
Dr. Ardrey is a much sought after speaker and commentator and has received numerous awards and honors, including Outstanding People of the 20th Century.
Her husband of thirty-six years, Dr. William Ardrey, is a trauma specialist with Inspire Medical Group. They have two children, Chris and Lindsey. Chris is a junior at WKU majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies with a Psychology Concentration. He was selected as Athlete of the Year for his achievements in tennis. Their daughter is working in the New Orleans offices of Teach for America while she raises funds and builds a curriculum for a charter school to empower at-risk kids in a local parish.
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