Jackie McLean Fellowship

Jackie McLean was a world-renowned alto saxophonist, educator, composer, and community activist who served on the faculty at the University of Hartford for 36 years. In 1968, he established the African-American music department and later the Jazz Studies degree program at The Hartt School. In 1970, he and his wife Dollie McLean founded the Artists Collective, a nationally recognized nonprofit, interdisciplinary cultural arts institution serving at-risk youth and the Greater Hartford community through the preservation and perpetuation of the art and culture of the African Diaspora.

The Jackie McLean Fellowship is open to candidates who have completed all coursework toward a terminal degree (doctoral degree or MFA). Post-doctoral candidates are also eligible. Fellows must be in residence during the fellowship year. Responsibilities include teaching one course per semester, conducting research or creative scholarship toward the completion of their degree or as a follow-up to their graduate work, giving at least one performance or presentation to the University and/or Hartford community, mentoring students and/or student organizations, and engaging in academic service. Fellows will be granted non-tenure-track faculty status at the Visiting Instructor or Assistant Professor level for one year, and receive salary, benefits, and travel funds.

Candidates for the Fellowship are nominated by one of our academic departments. Interested applicants should contact the relevant department chairs to explore the possibilities for the upcoming academic year (a list of departments and chairs can be found on our website).  Information on the search process for the 2023/2024 academic year will be posted in the fall of 2022. Candidates committed to advancing the role of under-represented minorities in higher education, to working with diverse populations and conversant in multi-cultural issues are encouraged to apply.

If you are interested in more information about this fellowship, please contact the Jackie McLean Fellowship Program Chair, Dr. Woody Doane (

Current and Past Fellows

Steven Banks is a 2022-23 fellow joining The Hartt School and winner of the prestigious 2022 Avery Fisher Career Grant. Steven is an ambassador for the classical saxophone, establishing himself as both a compelling and charismatic soloist, dedicated to showcasing the vast capabilities of the instrument, as well as an advocate for expanding its repertoire. Steven has recently appeared as concerto soloist under the direction of Peter Oundjian, first at the Colorado Music Festival in performances of works by Glazunov and Ibert, and later with the Colorado Symphony, performing John Adams’ Concerto. He also recently appeared on subscription concerts with The Cleveland Orchestra in Philip Glass’ Façades with John Adams on the podium. Steven regularly gives recitals at universities, performing arts series, and festivals across the United States and abroad, and he is also an emerging composer. This season, Steven will premiere an original composition for alto saxophone and string quartet in Carnegie Hall alongside the Borromeo String Quartet. He has also recently completed commissions for the Project 14 initiative at Yale University and the Northwestern University Saxophone Ensemble. Steven Banks has a B.M. in Saxophone Performance with a minor in Jazz Studies from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, and M.M. from Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music. His primary saxophone teachers have been Taimur Sullivan, Otis Murphy, Jr., and Galvin Crisp. 

Goyland Williams is a 2021–22 fellow joining the School of Communications in the College of Arts & Sciences. Professor Williams is a Ph.D. candidate at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where his research is informed by performance (auto)ethnography, Africana critical theory, and rhetorical criticism. Animated by the dual, and sometimes conflicting nature of African American expressive culture, his dissertation theorizes what he has coined as Black Interruptions to address the complex interplay between African American resistance and cultural expression. Professor Williams holds Master's degrees from Texas State University and University of Kansas. He taught previously at Seton Hall University.

Edwin Grimsley is a 2021–22 fellow in the Department of Criminal Justice in the College of Arts & Sciences. He is a Ph.D. candidate at the City University of New York, where his dissertation focuses on The Collateral and Cumulative Effects of Marijuana Criminalization. His B.A. is from Wesleyan University. Professor Grimsley previously taught at N.Y.U., John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and Hunter College (CUNY). His prior experience includes research with Yale Law and the Data Collaborative for Justice and professional work at the Innocence Project and the American Civil Liberties Union.


Dakota Nanton was a 2019-20 fellow and is currently Assistant Professor of Cinema in the Communication Department.  As an artist, educator and filmmaker, his films blur the boundaries between documentary, narrative, animation, analog and digital filmmaking.  Borrowing from the images and iconographies of the past and mixing old techniques with new, he explores the complexities and contradictions of identity that arise from living in the modern world.  He holds a MAin Studio Practice from the University of Colorado Boulder, as well as, a BAin Printmaking and a BS in News and Editorial Journalism.  Nanton's artwork has been exhibited in museums and film festivals around the world and is held in permanent collections in the United States, Canada, Italy, Australia, Egypt and New Zealand.


Krystal Klingenberg was a 2018-19 fellow and became Assistant Professor of Music History in the Music History Department. She earned her Ph.D. in the Music Department of Harvard University, with a secondary field in African and African American Studies. Krystal holds a BA from Princeton University in Anthropology, with a certificate in African Studies. Krystal's dissertation was on the creation and distribution of Ugandan popular music, at home in Uganda and abroad. Krystal taught classes on African American popular music, Jazz history, world music, jazz performance, and African history. She is currently a curator of music at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Billie Lee is an Assistant Professor of Art History and Painting in the Hartford Art School. She is an artist, educator, and writer working at the intersection of art, pedagogy, and social change. Her arts practice includes painting, video, and a documentary film project, Moving Home, that premiered at the Hawai‘i International Film Festival in 2012. She received her BAfrom the Rhode Island School of Design and MAfrom Yale University, and has held positions at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Yale University Art Gallery, Queens Museum, and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. As a doctoral candidate in American Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Lee’s dissertation project extends her interest in pedagogy through an examination on the cultural politics of difference in contemporary art and education.

Bianca Gonzalez-Lesser was a 2017-2018 fellow in Sociology in Hillyer College. Her areas of interests are race, ethnicity, racism, and media. Her dissertation examines racial threat in the Latino community in Hartford, CT through a qualitative/ethnographic lens. Her work has appeared in Critical Sociology Compass,and Sociology of Sport Journal. She is also co-guest editing a special issue on racialization for the journal Ethnic and Racial Studies. Bianca is currently completing her Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Connecticut and was recently accepted into the American Sociological Association’s Minority Fellowship Program for 2018-2019.
Ines Rivera Prosdocimi was a 2016-2017 fellow in the Department of English and Modern Languages in the College of Arts and Sciences. Ines is a Ph.D. candidate in comparative literature at the University of Maryland. She specializes in the twentieth and twenty-first century Caribbean and Caribbean American literature. A passionate educator, Ines has taught a variety of classes at the University of Maryland and Northern Virginia Community College including: Academic Writing;Business Writing; Creative Writing; World Literature by Women; Global Literature & Social Change. We are pleased that Ines has remained at the University of Hartford as a visiting instructor in the Department of English and Modern Languages.

Dominick Rolle was a 2016-2017 fellow in the Department of English and Modern Languages in the College of Arts and Sciences. He received his Ph.D. in English from Emory University in 2016 after receiving prestigious completion fellowships from the University of Pennsylvania and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. He received his bachelor's with distinction, in English, from the University of Virginia in 2008 and afterwards served for two years as a Youth Counselor Supervisor at a residential home for inner-city youth in the City of Charlottesville. His specialties are in twentieth and twenty-first century African American and Caribbean literatures. Dominick is currently an assistant professor of English at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina
Markeysha Davis was the 2015-2016 Jackie McLean Fellow in Africana Studies in Hillyer College and the College of Arts and Sciences. During her fellowship year, she completed her Ph.D. in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Her dissertation—“Daring Propaganda for the Beauty of the Human Mind: Critical Consciousness-Raising in Poetry and Drama of the Black Power Era, 1965-1976”—employs a multidisciplinary perspective on Black poetry and drama of the 60s and 70s.

Following her fellowship year and the completion of her Ph.D., Markeysha joined the faculty of the Department of Social Sciences in Hillyer College. She also teaches in the Africana Studies program in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Paula C. Austin holds a Ph.D. in history from the City University of New York’s Graduate Center and a Master of Arts and a Master of Philosophy in history. Her doctoral work examines black poor and working class subjectivity in Interwar Washington, D.C. She joined the Department of History in the College of Arts and Sciences for the spring semester of 2015, teaching African American History. Paula is currently on the faculty at California State University, Sacramento. 
Cesar Rodriguez spent 2013-2014 in the Department of Sociology in the at College of Arts and Sciences. He completed his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California at Santa Barbara during his year as a Jackie McLean fellow. Cesar’s doctoral research was on the "school to prison pipeline" (STPP), which examines the connections between struggling, inter-city schools and the disproportionate incarceration of young people of color. Cesar is currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at San Francisco State University.
Adryan Wallace completed her Ph.D. in Political Science at Rutgers University. Her sub-fields are women and politics, comparative politics, and African political theory. She holds a BS in Psychology from the University of Florida and an MA in African Studies from Howard University. Adryan's dissertation and subsequent scholarly work focuses on Hausa women in Nigeria and Ghana, and their use of both NGOs and community organizations to challenge the economic status quo. She received two dissertation fellowships at Rutgers to support her work. Adryan stayed at the University for four years as an assistant professor of politics and government and director of the Africana Studies program. She recently accepted a new position as an assistant professor of politics and government at Stony Brook University in New York.
Lisa Coons was a Jackie McLean fellow during the 2011-2012 academic year. She earned a Ph.D. in music composition from Princeton University and joined the Division of Music Composition in the Hartt School. Coons also holds an MAin composition from Princeton University, and an MA in composition from SUNY Stony Brook. Her research on identity and music is an ongoing exploration of how art relates to cultural context. In addition to composing, Coons is a talented metal worker who has designed and built percussion instruments. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Composition at Western Michigan University.

Lummie Spann was a Jackie McLean fellow during the 2011-2012 academic year. He is a saxophonist who earned a Bachelor of Music in African American music studies from the Hartt School in 2001 and studied with Jackie McLean as an undergraduate. He also holds a Master of Music from SUNY Purchase, which he completed in 2009. Spann is an active performer and teacher who shares the McLean family's vision for arts in the community. He performs locally, nationally, and internationally and has performed with Hartt faculty members and noted jazz musicians Steve Davis, Nat Reeves, and Rene McLean.
Laura Hymson spent her 2010–2011 fellowship year in the Department of History in the College of Arts and Sciences. She now holds a Ph.D. in American Culture at the University of Michigan, a BA in American Studies from Wesleyan University and an MA in Gender and Cultural Studies from Simmons College. Her scholarship examines the intersection phenomenon of corporate globalization and culture. Laura is an Assistant Professor of History at Bard High School Early College.
Meredith Nickie, a Jackie McLean Fellow in Sculpture, holds an MFA degree from Cornell University and a BFA from York University in Canada. She has participated in a number of prestigious residencies and fellowships at institutions including the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, The Universityät der Künste in Berlin, the Whitney Museum, and most recently at the Santa Fe Institute of Art. During her fellowship year, Meredith taught an Introductory Sculpture in the Fall of 2009 and a Special Topics in Sculpture: Remix and Mashup in the Spring of 2010, and continued her research in issues of post-colonialism, gender, and race as framed by the historiographies of imperial rule, and the enduring legacies of culture and capital. In the spring of 2010, she returned to New York to continue her studio art practice. She presented two solo exhibitions - including "This is Going Down" at the Vox Populi Gallery in Philadelphia, PA (June 4–June 27, 2010) and a solo show at ArtSpace Gallery in New Haven, CT (October 7–November 6, 2010). Meredith participated in "Simultaneous Presence: 2010 Sculpture at Evergreen Biennial" at the Evergreen Museum & Library, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD (Curated by Ronit Eisenbach and Jennie Flemming, May 2–September 26, 2010). Her work was also included in the Whitney Museum of American Art Auction Party on June 9, 2010.

Nadia Brown, a Jackie McLean Fellow in Politics and Government, taught American National Government; Gender, Power, and Politics; and Black Impact on Western Civilization during the 2009-2010 academic year. She also completed her Ph.D. in Political Science at Rutgers University during her fellowship year. Her dissertation examined the intersection of race, gender and politics and was eventually published as Sisters in the Statehouse: Black Women and Legislative Decision Making (Oxford University Press 2014). Nadia is currently an associate professor of political science and African-American studies at Purdue University. 
Karen Tejada-Pena holds a BA from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the State University of New York at Albany. During her 2008–2009 fellowship year, Karen taught Social Problems and Race and Ethnic Relations while completing her dissertation "Building Political Habitus: A Case Study of Salvadorans' Political Experiences in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area," a qualitative study examining the organizing practices of Salvadorans. Karen is currently an Associate Professor of sociology in Hillyer College and teaches a variety of courses in both Hillyer College and the College of Arts and Sciences, including Introduction to Sociology, Sociology of the City, Race and Ethnic Relations, and Sociology of Immigration. Her published work on political habits appears in Humanity & Society, Interface: a Journal for and about Social Movements and Latino Studies.

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