The mission of the South Africa Initiatives Office (SAIO) is to understand and assist South Africa's continued transformation into a democratic and equitable society through scholarship, outreach initiatives and collaboration. SAIO's aim is to promote scholarly travel, research and exchanges between the University of Michigan community and the African nations, especially South Africa.
In 1991, a delegation led by Charles Moody, Vice Provost of Minority Affairs at the University of Michigan was dispatched to South Africa to bestow and honorary degree to Nelson Mandela. During the trip, the U-M delegation met with officials from the higher education community and the African National Congress. Upon its return, the delegation proposed that U-M pursue linkages with the post secondary education communities of South Africa, and SAIO was officially launched in 1993. Initial goals included offering graduate and post-graduate training to black faculty and students from South Africa and encouraging U-M faculty and students to engage in joint research with South African scholars.
In the ensuing years, SAIO established relationships with many South African agencies, governmental and non-governmental organizations as well as colleges and universities. It also served as a resource for those planning research or outreach trips to South Africa.
In September 1996 the Charles D. / Christella D. Moody South Africa Initiative Fund was established by Associate Vice Provost Lester Monts. The fund was established to help support students and faculty from the U-M for travel, study and research in South Africa and to fund students from South African institutions to study and do research at the University of Michigan.
The unit was originally affiliated with the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Research, but became part of LSA's Center for Afroamerican and African Studies (CAAS) in 1999, where it was part of the Michigan African Studies Initiative. In 2013, CAAS's successor, the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS) still administered two grants from SAIO, the SAIO Graduate Fellowship for incoming graduate students from Africa and SAIO Research Grants (including the Moody Fellowship) for U-M graduate students wishing to pursue research or internships in Africa, especially South Africa. The Charles Moody Exchange Scholars Program, aimed at bringing African scholars to Ann Arbor, was folded into the University of Michigan African Presidential Scholars Program (UMAPS) administered by the African Studies Center in 2008. The African Studies Center is part of the International Institute.
Charles D. Moody, 1993-1996
Oscar A. Barbarin, 1996-1999
Elrie LaBrent (Brent) Chrite, 2000-2003
David R. Williams, 2004-2005
Kenneth Lutterman received his PhD in sociology from the University of Wisconsin in 1962. He taught as St. Olaf College (1953-1962) and the University of Wisconsin (1962-1968) before coming to Washington DC to work with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) where he was a program officer and associate director. In 1999, after 31 years at NIMH, he assumed the role of Assistant Dean for Research at University of Michigan's School of Social Work. He specialized in the effect of violence and mental health, and he visited South Africa to contribute his expertise in the years following the downfall of apartheid. He died suddenly in December of 2001. It is not clear how SAIO acquired his papers, but they are of obvious value to researchers interested in the post-apartheid era. They were transferred to the Bentley as part of the SAIO record group in 2012.