Celeste Watkins-Hayes, sociology and African American studies, has been named an associate vice president for research. She will begin her new role on January 1.
“It is a thrill and an honor for me to join the Office for Research as an associate vice president. Northwestern’s research enterprise has seen remarkable growth, and many exciting possibilities for additional important discoveries await us,” says Watkins-Hayes. “I look forward to supporting my faculty colleagues in their research endeavors, working with the Office for Research team under the excellent leadership of Jay Walsh, and helping to expand Northwestern's research footprint given the University’s diverse strengths and high-impact scholarship.”
After earning her PhD in sociology from Harvard in 2003, Watkins-Hayes became a Northwestern faculty member as an assistant professor. She served as chair of the Department of African American Studies from 2011-13. In addition to her faculty appointments, Watkins-Hayes is a fellow at Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research, where she also is on the executive committee. She earned a BA from Spelman College and is part of its board of trustees. The Detroit Institute of Arts also recently appointed her to its board of directors.
Watkins-Hayes has published numerous articles about urban poverty; social policy; HIV/AIDS; non-profit and government organizations; and race, class, and gender. Her book, The New Welfare Bureaucrats: Entanglements of Race, Class, and Policy Reform (University of Chicago Press, 2009), is an examination of how welfare officers navigate the increasingly tangled political and emotional terrain of their jobs. The book was a finalist for the 2009 C. Wright Mills Book Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems and the 2011 Max Weber Book Award from the American Sociological Association.
Watkins-Hayes is principal investigator of The Health, Hardship, and Renewal Study, which explores the economic and social survival strategies of women living with HIV/AIDS in the Chicago area. She received a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Investigator Award and a National Science Foundation Early CAREER Award to conduct this research. Results from that study will be presented in her book, Remaking a Life: HIV/AIDS and the Politics of Transformation (forthcoming in 2018 with the University of California Press). In addition to her academic articles and essays, Watkins-Hayes has published pieces in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Trusteeship Magazine, and Chicago Magazine.
“In joining the Office for Research, Celeste will bring insights and perspective that help us further the University’s mission of creating new knowledge with positive social impact,” says Jay Walsh, vice president for research. “I look forward to collaborating with her as part of our senior leadership team as we support Northwestern’s faculty and their widespread research.”