Dr. Darin J. Waters

Executive Director of Community Engagement UNC Asheville

Maker: Media/Writer

Dr. Darin J. Waters is the Executive Director of the Office of Community Engagement, and an Associate Professor of History at UNC Asheville in Asheville, North Carolina. As a professor, Dr. Waters teaches courses in American history, North Carolina History, Appalachian History, African American and Brazilian History. He also specializes in the history of race relations in both the United States and Latin America.

Waters received his doctorate from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2012. While at Chapel Hill, he worked with Dr. Harry L. Watson and the noted African American historian Dr. John Hope Franklin. Waters’ own research has focused on the history of African Americans in Asheville and Western North Carolina. More recently, he has written about issues surrounding the construction of the nation’s collective historical memory, exploring the impact that that memory has on the present.

In his role as the Executive Director of the UNC Asheville Office of Community Engagement, Waters works closely with campus and community leaders, representing an array of community based organizations, to strengthen and build new partnerships for and with the university.

Since 2014, Dr. Waters has hosted the African Americans in Western North Carolina and Southern Appalachia Conference at UNC Asheville. In 2016, the work of the conference was recognized with additional funding by the Mellon Foundation. The conference has grown to become a major annual event for the university.

Along with his colleague, Dr. Marcus Harvey, Waters is the producer and co-host of the Waters and Harvey Show, a weekly program that airs on the BPR - Blue Ridge Public Radio station in Asheville, and is available as a podcast on iTunes and Google Play. For his work Waters was awarded The Old North State Award, by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, in 2018.

Prior to beginning graduate studies, Waters worked for North Carolina Department of Corrections as Adult Probation and Parole officer. In that position, he worked closely with officials in the North Carolina Court System and the Law Enforcement community. As a result, he gained an intimate knowledge of the challenges that officials in these agencies face as they worked to carry out their responsibilities to protect and serve the public, and to ensure that justice is meted out in a fair and equitable manner. He also gained an intimate knowledge of how and why members of the public become frustrated with the way they are often treated within the legal and judicial system.

In addition to working in the State’s court and criminal justice system, Waters also worked with city leaders in Raleigh on issues surrounding affordable housing. At the request of the city’s Mayor, Waters was appointed to the Housing Authority of the City of Raleigh’s Board of Commissioners. He was subsequently elected by his fellow Commissioners to serve as Board Chair. In this position, Waters worked closely with the Housing Authority’s Executive Director, the Mayor, and City Council to improve and upgrade the city’s existing public housing facilities, and to expand affordable housing opportunities throughout the city by developing and implementing a federally mandated scattered-site housing plan.


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