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Ajayi-Soyinka, Omofolabo

Year Inducted: 
Omofolabo Ajayi-Soyinka
  • Professor in Women’s Studies, Theatre & Film, and African-American Studies
  • Received national recognition from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
  • National recognition from the Rockefeller Center for her creative works
  • Known for her “History Alive” representations as slave and poet Phillis Wheatley

Omofolabo Ajayi-Soyinka is an accomplished teacher, researcher, choreographer, playwright, director, and actor.  According to Sandra Albrecht, former Director of the Women’s Studies Program, “Because of the range of her talents, [she] has earned a regional, national, and international reputation for her interdisciplinary achievements… [Her] record is particularly noteworthy in the phenomenal diversity of her research and creative contributions.” 

Dr. Ajayi-Soyinka holds a joint appointment in the Women’s Studies Program and in the Department of Theatre and Film as well as a courtesy appointment in the African and African-American Studies Program at the University of Kansas.  Her research focuses primarily on African and African-American women but ranges from topics as diverse as the study of semiotics to examining the relationship that feminism and nationalism have to the identity of African women.  Her creative works are similarly wide-ranging and have received national recognition from both the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as well as the Rockefeller Foundation. 

Dr. Ajayi-Soyinka is also well-respected for her dedication to the University and the community, having served on numerous committees including the Dean’s Scholars’ Program and the University Discrimination Hearing Board.  Pia Thielmann, one of her graduate students, wrote of Dr. Ajayi-Soyinka’s community work, “…Thanks to her excellent representation of the African slave and poet Phillis Wheatley as a performer with the Kansas Humanities Council program, ‘History Alive!’ for students at the junior high, high school, and community college levels from all over Kansas…are likely never to forget Phillis Wheatley as part of their American history because of this unique kind of learning experience provided by her.”

As a teacher, she is highly praised both by colleagues and students alike.  According to Arthur Drayton, then Director of the African Studies National Resource Center, “Student of both genders, of all races and in several disciplines have benefitted from her command of theory and practice…”  Sally Shedd, another graduate student, commented, “I feel that through her work with students, [she] is making a real difference in the status of women…She makes a difference in perceptions and therefore she is working towards a change in the status of women at a vital level – in the minds of young scholars.”

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