Lessane joins the College after teaching at five Chicago-area colleges and universities, most recently as Assistant Professor of Social Science and Humanities in the Department of Professional and Liberal Studies at Roosevelt University.
“I am delighted to serve as the Director of the Avery Research Center of African American History and Culture and I look forward to working with my talented and dedicated staff, as well as The College of Charleston’s community of prolific scholars to continue to build on the Avery Normal Institute’s legacy of academic excellence and community advocacy, out of which Avery grew, ” says Lessane. “With the center’s robust collection of African American art, artifacts, and archives and The College of Charleston’s most viable resources, namely the students and faculty, we are poised to propel Avery onto the international radar as one the most important repositories of African American history and culture including that of the Gullah and Low Country traditions.”
The Avery Research Center maintains an archive of primary and secondary source material of nearly 4,000 holdings relating to the unique historical and cultural heritage of African Americans in Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry. The Center also operates as a small museum, a national historic site with a listing on the National Register of Historic Sites, and a cultural center. The Center was established in 1985 as a source of community outreach on African-American issues.
Lessane began her teaching career at Chicago State University in the English department, under the late Dr. Donda West, before beginning her doctoral work at University of Illinois at Chicago in the anthropology and geography department. She served as an adjunct faculty member at Northeastern Illinois University in the anthropology, English and women’s studies departments. More recently, she was a tenured lecturer at Wilbur Wright College focusing on the literary, musical, and artistic contribution of African, African-diasporan and other peoples of color have made to Western American popular culture. She has held several positions at The Field Museum in Chicago and contributed to dozens of projects as a consultant. Most recently, she was the program developer for The Museum of Science and Industry’s annual Black Creativity exhibition and programs. Lessane has also presented at numerous conferences on topics related to African-American culture and religious identity, and African-American Women’s literature.
Patricia Lessane actually comes as part of a dynamic duo, supporting African-American growth at the College. Her husband, Talim Lessane will start as academic coordinator for the Upward Bound program. He brings more than 10 years of experience working with youth as a counselor and program coordinator, as well as in helping students, many of them first-generation, to be successful in higher education. The Upward Bound Program, sponsored by the College of Charleston since 1975, is a college preparatory program designed to generate in its participants the skills and motivation necessary for success in education beyond high school.
The Upward Bound Program provides special academic and cultural opportunities for a limited number of high school sophomores, juniors and seniors who have expressed an interest in pursuing a post-secondary education and who have demonstrated the potential to succeed in post-secondary education.