Two Outstanding Scholars Join CSSW Faculty

Communications Office
August 16, 2021

The addition of Rob Eschmann and Nkemka Anyiwo to the CSSW faculty marks the start of a cluster hire of faculty whose research aims to enhance the lives of Black Americans.

The School of Social Work has recruited two outstanding young scholars to its faculty: Dr. Rob Eschmann and Dr. Nkemka Anyiwo.

Dr. Eschmann, who joined CSSW on July 1st as an associate professor, is an expert on race, education, and technology. He joins Columbia from the faculty at Boston University, where was an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work and served as Assistant Director of Research at BU’s Center for Antiracist Research, founded and directed by Ibram X. Kendi. Dr. Eschmann’s latest research seeks to explore and describe systematically the way online communication has changed society’s expressions of racism, the effects of these online expressions on communities of color and society as a whole, and efforts to mobilize resistance to racism at both the individual and structural levels. His forthcoming book, When the Hood Comes Off: Racism and Resistance in the Digital Age, will be published by the University of California Press. He received both his Master’s degree and his PhD in Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago.

Dr. Anyiwo, whose work focuses on facilitating positive psychological outcomes for Black youth, will join as an assistant professor on July 1, 2022, after completing the third year of a three-year post-doctoral fellowship in the Division of Human Development and Quantitative Methods at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. The primary focus of her work, which has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the Ford Foundation, is how media and other sociocultural factors promote the resilience and empowerment of Black youth, shaping their racial identities and their sociopolitical development. She is a proponent of the principle that research on Black youth’s development should be done in collaboration with youth and their communities. She completed both her Master’s degree in Social Work and her PhD in Social Work and Developmental Psychology at the University of Michigan.

The new hires have been made with support from the Office of the Provost, which a year ago announced a cluster-hire initiative in the area of Race and Racism scholarship. The School of Social Work competed successfully for funding to support the recruitment of exceptional scholars who study the systems that affect the well-being of Black Americans. The goal is to build a cohort of Columbia scholars who will build excellence not only through their own work in this field but also by serving as catalysts for interdisciplinary and cross-School collaborations. Taking a “systems thinking” approach, these professors will address the range of interconnected structures that impact equity and opportunity for Black Americans, including the educational, economic, criminal justice, and healthcare systems.

“I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Eschmann and Dr. Anyiwo to Columbia. We are incredibly lucky to have recruited such phenomenal scholars,” said Dean Melissa Begg. “Dr. Eschmann’s research seeks to uncover individual, group, and institutional level barriers to racial and economic equity, and we look forward to supporting his work exploring the intersections between race, education, and social media, particularly as it pertains to the well-being of Black youth. Dr. Anyiwo’s research program has been shaped by her experiences as a youth activist, an artist, and a leader in social justice organizations. While investigating the cultural forces that shape Black youth’s social identities, sociopolitical beliefs, and behaviors, she is uncovering ways to promote the empowerment and resilience of this group, leading to political activism. I’m extremely grateful to the Faculty Search Committee for their determined and skillful efforts throughout the search process.”

Dean Begg added that these two new faculty members will have a transformative effect on the School’s research and educational programs: “By attracting a ‘cluster’ of exceptional scholars of race and racism to Columbia, we have an opportunity to develop a cadre of leaders, in both thought and action, to address the problem of system racism in the U.S. In addition, given Columbia’s embracing of the ‘fourth purpose’ and desire to have impact on the world at large via initiatives like Columbia World Projects, we can mobilize the intellectual and practical resources to support a new generation of leaders who will promote an anti-racist and pro-well-being agenda for the University, our community, our nation, and the world.”

“I feel incredibly fortunate to be joining the faculty at CSSW,” said Dr. Eschmann. “There are so many scholars here that I hope to learn from and collaborate with. I’m a new member of the Columbia community but already feel at home, thanks to the welcoming faculty, staff, and administrators here. I can’t wait to get to know our students, and look forward to getting to work this fall as we continue to build an agenda around dismantling anti-Black racism and White supremacy culture in our field and society.”

“I look forward to joining Columbia next summer and contributing to the research life of the School of Social Work,” said Dr. Anyiwo. “Work that helps to empower Black youth and promote their resilience is incredibly important to me, and I look forward to working with Rob and others at the School to develop scholarship and initiatives focused on supporting holistic healing and wellbeing of Black youth and their communities.”