Institute for the Study of Race and Culture Director Alex Pieterse, a faculty member in the Lynch School of Education and Human Development, will be the keynote speaker at the University’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Banquet, which takes place February 21 at 5 p.m. in the Yawkey Center Murray Function Room.

During the banquet, University President William P. Leahy, S.J., will announce the winner of the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship, which recognizes a Boston College junior who has demonstrated superior academic achievement, extracurricular leadership, community service, and involvement with the African American community and African American issues.

This year’s scholarship candidates are Kaylee Arzu, Ashley-Rae Stewart, Maria Christie Louis, Srina Lacet, and Osasenaga Owens.

Alex Pieterse

Alex Pieterse, director of the Institute for the Study of Race and Cluture (Caitlin Cunningham)

Pieterse, who joined the Lynch School as an associate professor of counseling psychology last year, studies the psychosocial aspects of race and racism, racial trauma, and anti-racism training and self-awareness. His research and clinical work revolve around the negative psychological impact of racism, a now universally established truth not uniformly accepted until relatively recently. In 2012, when Pieterse published a statistical review in the Journal of Counseling Psychology on the mental health-related outcomes associated with racism, there was little empirical examination on the subject.

He succeeded Janet Helms as director of the Institute for the Study and Promotion of Race and Culture—the institute was renamed upon his appointment—and last fall organized its annual Diversity Challenge around the theme “Considering Racial Trauma: Strategies for Healing and Empowerment.” He also established a new virtual scholar-in-residence program to support an early-career scholar’s research and help grant them visibility in the field.

Prior to BC, Pieterse was an associate professor and doctoral training director at the State University of New York at Albany, where he had worked since 2008, except for a two-year stint as a senior lecturer at Monash University in Australia. A native of South Africa, he began his academic career as an assistant professor of education at George Mason University in 2005.

Pieterse received a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Columbia University Teachers College. A licensed psychologist and registered nurse who maintains a psychotherapy practice, he is an associate editor of The Counseling Psychologist, and serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Social Action in Counseling and Psychology.

University Communications | February 2023