Professor cited for bravery, commitment to transforming communities

Debra Majeed, professor of religious studies and Edwin F. Wilde Distinguished Service Professor earns emerita status upon retirement.

The word that best encapsulates Professor Debra Majeed’s stance, approach, philosophy, and pedagogy, is courage. She is brave beyond measure. Her fearless risk-taking transforms her communities, most especially Beloit College, by encouraging all of us to imagine and become our best selves—that is, to follow her lead in balancing a reflective inner life with a courageous outer life. Nowhere has she issued and met this challenge more compellingly than in the classroom, where for the past 20 years Professor Majeed’s high expectations and passionate dedication to her students have elicited their best work.

While living with structural inequities to which others were oblivious sometimes brought loneliness and alienation, her warrior spirit tempered righteous rage with compassion and wisdom in order to address injustice, both in her work with students and colleagues and in her scholarship. A space-maker throughout her time at Beloit, Professor Majeed opened new places of welcome for staff, students, and faculty members. And she always chose to teach courses that fostered the creation of new pedagogical spaces, from “Marvel’s Take on Religion and Race” to her final first-year seminar, titled “Dear White People.”

Like her teaching, Professor Majeed’s scholarship explores understudied lifeways with sensitivity and insight. Her acclaimed 2016 book, Polygyny: What It Means When African American Muslim Women Share Their Husbands, made waves among U.S. Muslim communities. Critics have hailed her womanist approach as “captivating, provocative, and groundbreaking,” and praised her “depth and analytical rigor about a topic we have scarcely begun to understand” (Amina Wadud). Professor Majeed has brought the same critical curiosity to her professional service as a board member at organizations such as Daughters of the African Atlantic Fund, Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice, and the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. Even without students, she continues to speak and act fearlessly for social justice.

It is with sadness, gratitude, and undying respect that we welcome Professor Debra Majeed into the honored ranks of Beloit College faculty emeriti.

May 05, 2020

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