Skip to Provost site navigationSkip to main content

Schomburg Distinguished Visiting Scholars

The Schomburg Program
picture of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg

Arturo (Arthur) Alfonso Schomburg (1874-1938)


The Schomburg Program, established in 1987 and named for Puerto Rican historian, writer, and activist Arturo Schomburg, provides Ramapo College students with the opportunity to learn from scholars, activists, authors, artists, etc. from diverse backgrounds with expertise related to intercultural/multicultural education.





The Schomburg Program History
The Schomburg Program History

In 1987 the Minority Faculty and Staff Association of Ramapo College in concert with the administration, developed and initiated a Distinguished visiting minority scholar program – entitled the The Schomburg Program, after the Puerto Rican historian, writer, and activist Arturo Schomburg. It was originally designed to impact on students’ learning experiences through exposure to a greater minority presence with the community of Ramapo educators and enrich offerings related to the intercultural/multicultural mission. It was and is expected to provide Ramapo College students with the opportunity to hear from, and interact with, scholars, activists, authors, artists etc. from diverse backgrounds with expertise in areas related to intercultural/multicultural education.

Arturo Alfonso Schomburg was born in Puerto Rico on January 24, 1874. He began his education in a primary school in San Juan, where he studied reading, penmanship, sacred history, church history, arithmetic, Spanish grammar, history, agriculture and commerce. Arturo’s fifth-grade teacher is said to have told him that “Black people have no history, no heroes, no great moments.” Because of this and his participation in a history club, Schomburg developed a thirst for knowledge about people of African descent and began his lifelong quest studying the history and collecting the books and artifacts that made up the core of his unique and extensive library.

He came to New York in April 1891 and lived on the Lower East Side. He was involved in the revolutionary movements of the immigrant Cubans and Puerto Ricans living in that area, regularly attending meetings and working at odd jobs while attending night school at Manhattan Central High School. Schomburg became a Mason and met bibliophile and journalist John Edward Bruce. “Bruce Grit” introduced Schomburg to the African-American intellectual community and encouraged him to write about African world history and continue to increase his knowledge.

Arturo Schomburg would look everywhere for books by and about African people. He also collected letters, manuscripts, prints, playbills and paintings. He was especially proud of his collection of Benjamin Banneker’s Almanacs. In fact, his library contained many rare and unusual items from all over the world. The history of the Caribbean and Latin America and the lives of heroic people in that region was also an area of special interest to Schomburg. And he actively sought any material relative to that subject.

Schomburg’s collection became the cornerstone of The New York Public Library’s Division of Negro Literature, History, and Prints. He frequently loaned objects from his personal library to the 135th Street Branch of The New York Public Library, which was a center of intellectual and cultural activity in Harlem. In 1926 his collection of 10,000 items was purchased by the Library with the assistance of the Carnegie Corporation. He was later invited to be the curator of the new division that included his collections. He became involved in the social and literary movement that started in Harlem, known as the “Harlem Renaissance.” which spread to African-American communities throughout the country. Schomburg fully shared his knowledge of the history of peoples of African descent with the young scholars and writers of the New Negro movement. One of his primary motivations was to combat racial prejudice by providing proof of the extraordinary contributions of peoples of African descent to world history. Schomburg wrote, “I depart now on a mission of love to recapture my lost heritage.”

Criteria & Procedure
Criteria & Procedure

Schomburg Distinguished Visiting Scholar Program Criteria

(Developed by Minority Faculty and Staff Association)

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Candidates should meet the following criteria:

  • Have demonstrated record of scholarly/artistic achievement.
  • Have significant experience in his/her discipline or area of specialization.
  • Have a demonstrated record of success involving their area of expertise with a diverse student population.
  • Have an awareness and appreciation for cultural differences among our student population.
  • Be, preferably, of minority persuasion.
  • Be capable of identifying with ethnically diverse students to the extent of serving as a model and mentor.


All proposals should be submitted electronically via this form.

Proposals should be brief and include the following:

  • Provide a brief purpose of the proposed program and list desired outcomes that will result from the program.
  • Identify the sponsoring faculty / convening group / unit
  • Identify the scholar and provide a brief but clear description of the proposal and college related events. Where possible, include a list of student learning goals or outcomes you wish to achieve by bringing the scholar to Ramapo, and try to align with the goals of Ramapo’s Strategic Plan.   Describe how the success of the program will be measured once the activity (workshop, lecture etc.) has been completed.
  • Describe applicant’s qualifications for this grant.
  • Identify the duration of the visiting scholars’ residency on campus and the community population to be involved with the project.
  • Provide the projected program schedule during academic year 2024-2025.
  • If you have received a sponsored project in the past, a brief description of the program, date, scholar, amounts etc.  Note that projects that have received Schomburg funding within the last two years are NOT eligible for a new award.
  • A proposed budget request from the Schomburg Scholars program and any supplemental budget requests (please specify amount and funding source).
  • Include supporting materials (press releases, biographies, resumes, etc.)
  • List the tools you will be using to assess the success of the program or presentation.

NOTE:  Successful applicants agree to provide the committee with a brief report of the event by the end of the semester in which it occurs, as well as program documentation, including posters, press releases, photographs, and other documents appropriate for a Schomburg website.  Future funding of proposals is contingent on receipt of this request.

General Guidelines for Faculty or Staff Receiving Schomburg Awards
General Guidelines for Faculty or Staff Receiving Schomburg Awards

The Schomburg award funds are managed by the Office of the Provost.  All expenses must be approved in advance by the Office of the Provost.  Honorariums and travel expenses are typically supported by the Schomburg Program.  All scholars are required to have an executed contract prior to their performance – there are no exceptions to this rule.  The process for faculty receiving awards and for the Office of the Provost is outlined below.  

  • Schomburg Committee notifies the Office of the Provost of the award recipient, award amount, and speaker information in order for the Provost to approve the release of funds.
  • Upon Provost’s approval of the release of funds, the Schomburg Committee notifies the recipient of the award amount.
  • The Office of the Provost sends a formal award letter to the recipient. 
  • Faculty/staff member provides the following information to the Office of the Provost:
    • Name, address, phone number, and email address of the scholar (for the contract which is required for all scholars – no exceptions).
    • Date, start time and end time of the event, as well as the arrival and departure times for the scholar (for the contract).
    • Exact location of the event.
    • Biography and headshot for website
    • NOTEThe above information may have already been provided via the Schomburg application, but the Office of the Provost will seek confirmation of the details in order to create an accurate contract and publish accurate information on the Schomburg web page.
  • The Office of the Provost obtains the following items directly from the scholar:  
    • IRS Form W9 (within the US) or IRS Form W8 (international – see note below about international scholars) – this is required in order to pay the scholar their honorarium.
    • Media Release Form – needed in case photography of videography is used.
  • In preparation for the event, the Office of the Provost will:  
    • Execute the contract and work with Purchasing to set the scholar up as a vendor in Banner (for payment).
    • Advertise the event by posting the information on the Schomburg website, adding the event to the Teaching & Learning Core calendar of events, and submit an announcement of the event to the Daily Digest on the faculty member’s behalf.
    • Reserve and handle payment for a hotel room if needed and budgeted for.
  • In preparation for the event, the faculty/staff member is responsible for the following, if needed:
    • Reserve space.
    • Request design requests (posters/social media/etc.) from Marketing and Communications via the Creative Brief Form at least two weeks prior to the desired promotion date, should they be necessary and budgeted for.
    • Request photography services via the Creative Brief Form, if desired, at least two weeks prior to the event date.
  • After the event, the Office of the Provost will:
    • Ensure that the honorarium is paid.
    • If budgeted and approved, collect receipts and ensure travel expenses are reimbursed, according to the Travel Policies & Procedures.
  • After the event, the faculty/staff member will:
    • Provide the committee with a brief report of the event by the end of the semester in which it occurs, as well as program documentation, including posters, press releases, photographs, and other documents appropriate for the Schomburg website.  This report will be submitted via this Google Form.

Note regarding international scholars:  Visas and miscellaneous travel documents should be discussed with Rajesh Adhikari, Associate Director of International Student and Scholar Services, International Education, before any arrangements are made with the performer/scholar.  Rajesh Adhikari can be reached at (201) 684-7567 or

Previous Scholars
person in glasses and a sports coat smiling

Nick White

On April 30, 2024, Professor Indya Jackson (HGS) presented “The Queer South:  A Reading with Nick White” thanks to a Schomburg award of $500. The purpose of this program was to engage students and community members in a conversation about the regional identity of the South and its intersection with queer identity. Supported by a reading by author Nick White, in light of the retrenchment of LGBTQIA+ rights, particularly in the south, this program implored students to understand how and why New Jerseyans (and other “northerners”) should be engaged in the issue. The event included an overview of some of the challenges facing the LGBTQIA community in the South, a reading of the scholar’s work, and a Q&A Session.

Originally from Mississippi, Nick White is the author of the novel How to Survive a Summer (Blue Rider/Penguin, 2017) and the story collection Sweet and Low. He is an Associate Professor of English at The Ohio State University’s MFA Program in Creative Writing. His short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in a variety of places, including The Kenyon Review, Guernica, Catapult, The Hopkins Review, Indiana Review, The Literary Review, Lit Hub, and elsewhere. He is currently at work on a new novel.

Professor Sanford Shevack received a Schomburg award of $500 to hold a virtual event with Leslie James Pickering.  Mr. Pickering has been lecturing across the United States and Europe on radical elements of social justice struggles for over twenty-five years.  Topics have ranged from underground movements including the Earth Liberation Front, to state repression and free speech.  Leslie has spoke at Princeton, New York University, Lewis & Clark College, Wesleyan University, and numerous other educational and cultural institutions.  He has appeared on National Geographic Television, the New York Times, Maxim, Rolling Stone, Time, Newsweek, the Village Voice, CBC News, BBC Podcasts, the Academy Award-nominated documentary If a Tree Falls, and many other media outlets.  A Lecturer Professor of Political Science and Sociology at Niagara University and a co-owner of the Burning Books Bookstore in Buffalo, NY, Mr. Pickering discussed the issue of book banning at the April 24, 2024 event.

Photo of Schomburg Speaker in a blue shirt standing outside by a building.

Chandan Gowda

With a Schomburg award of $1800, Professor Sanghamitra Padhy (SSHS) hosted Byrapatna Murthy Chandana Gowda at Ramapo for “Routes to Decolonization:  Democracy and Dissent in India.”  Dr. Chandan Gowda is Ramakrishna Hegde Chair Professor of Decentralization and Development at the Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bengaluru. Apart from his recent book, Another India: Events, Memories, People (2023), he has edited Theatres of Democracy: Selected Essays of Shiv Visvanathan (2016), The Way I See It: A Gauri Lankesh Reader (2018), which later saw Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Telugu, and Tamil translations, as well as A Life in the World (2019), a book of autobiographical interviews he did with UR Ananthamurthy. His translation of UR Ananthamurthy’s novella Bara (2016) was shortlisted for the Crossword Book Award for Translations in 2017. He is currently co-translating and editing Daredevil Mustafa, a short fiction anthology by Purnachandra Tejasvi, and The Greatest Kannada Short Stories Ever Told and co-editing The Rammanohar Lohia Reader.

Another India embodies various facets of the decolonization imperative. It summons past episodes and images which have a living narrative and moral presence in the present, but are readily evacuated in modern cultural spaces in India. Recalling these is to create a wider and more participative conversational space and help democratize intellectual activity. These acts of ‘recovery’ disclose a variety of humanistic legacies, revise misconceptions about history and tradition, and also oblige us to revisit the claims of epistemic discontinuity attributed to colonial rule.  Aligning – indeed, building – intellectual conversations with them integrates scholarly work with the lives of communities by engaging their narrative and philosophical achievements that continue to flow in the present. In short, Another India, explores a few means by which the long cherished and difficult aim of decolonizing intellectual work and re-crafting cultural democracy can be aided.

Book cover - Dr. Giulia Paoletti's Portrait and Place - Photography in Senegal, 1840-1960In Spring 2024, a $250 Schomburg award allowed Professor John Peffer (CA) to have a special visitor to his Introduction to Global Art Traditions class.  Dr. Giulia Paoletti is an Assistant Professor of African Art History at the University of Virginia and is a leading expert on photography in Africa.  She spoke of her experiences doing research on portrait photography in Senegal, and discussed her new book Portrait and Place:  Photography in Senegal, 1840-1960 (Princeton University Press, 2024).  Her talk was followed by an extended Q & A discussion with students.




Ambassador Enayat Nabiel

Ambassador Enayat Nabiel

With a $1000 Schomburg award, Professor Rebecca Root (HGS) was able to bring Ambassador Enayat Nabiel to her class and Ramapo Community on March 27, 2024.  The topic was The UN and World Order.  Enayat Nabiel spent decades in various roles within the government of Afghanistan, including in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance.  He later served as Ambassador of Afghanistan to the Netherlands.  He also spent years working for the United Nations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Liberia.  Now retired here in New Jersey, Ambassador Nabiel eagerly shared his experiences and perspective on the role of the international community in Afghanistan and Iraq and his own experiences at the United Nations.

Professor Timmesha Davis (SSHS) was awarded $1200 to host Mohammed Nurudeen Musah on March 24, 2024 for a program titled, “Care Ethics, Social Justice, and Social Change in Practice:  Fostering Compassion.”  This event encompassed an interdisciplinary panel to highlight the significance of collective responsibility and care ethics as a relational practice that is imperative in addressing societal inequalities.  Through the lens of social justice, the panel discussed the structural and societal barriers that perpetuate the marginalization of houseless individuals and children.

Mohammed Nurudeen Musah

A visiting professor here at Ramapo, and a former Ramapo student, Mohammed Nurudeen Musah is a doctoral student in Ghana who is conducting research and scholarship that focuses on the care ethics related to children who are living in street situations/homeless.  He will discuss the core concepts of care ethics and the importance of incorporating care ethics when addressing social justice issues.  He has extensive experience with engaging in scholarship that is related to the care, intervention and advocacy of marginalized communities to include: Black and Brown communities, individuals with mental health disorder, and individuals with substance use disorders.  Additionally, he has a strong research agenda that focuses on international social work practices related to social justice, child welfare, and Afrocentric social work practices.


HGS Professors Hugh Sheehy and James Hoch were awarded $2500 in support of the Readings at Ramapo program which hosted Dionne Irving on October 19, 2023.  A novelist and short story writer, Dionne Irving read from her short story “An American Idea of Fun” in the York Room to a crowd of faculty and students. Afterward, she took questions about topics ranging from the value of traveling to write to the theoretical narratee of any given work of fiction, and she even stuck around to chat one-on-one with a number of our students. It was delightful event, and students and faculty were still talking about it into the following week.

Irving is the author of Quint (7.13 Books) and The Islands (Catapult Books), shortlisted for the 2023 PEN/Faulkner Award and named by NPR as one of the best books of 2022; this collection of short stories is a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her work has appeared in Story, Boulevard, LitHub, Missouri Review, and New Delta Review, among other journals and magazines. The author Jonathan Escoffery has said that her book “The Islands illuminates the complex history and current condition of the far-flung Jamaican diaspora, bringing it to the page as it’s never before been seen. Cultures collide between and within households, between and within characters, making for compelling stories about identity and belonging.” The novelist Karen Bender describes her novel Quint as “an expansive novel of multiple births, motherhood, siblings, celebrity, exploitation, loss and connection; this story truly contains the world. Dionne Irving is a fantastic writer; she tells this unique story with honesty and precision and playfulness, and this novel compels with her vision, which is original and vast.” Irving teaches in the Creative Writing Program and the Initiative on Race and Resilience at the University of Notre Dame.

Ariacne Trujillo Durand

With a $450 Schomburg award, Professor Marc Gidal (CA) hosted musician Ariacne Trujillo Durand on Monday, October 30, 2023 during “Music in Latin America” class.  Ariacne Trujillo Durand is an outstanding professional Cuban singer, pianist, bandleader, and composer/arranger.  She demonstrated and explained aspects of Cuban music (son, salsa, timba, and Latin jazz).  The class also learned about her life, career, and move to the United States, including her insights as a Latina professional musician.  Ariacne Trujillo Durand was born in Havana Cuba and started to sing and play the piano at age 4.  She has over 20 years of experience as a classically-trained pianist, vocalist, arranger, composer, musical director, and winner of several accolades and awards for mastery in international and national competitions.  She has shared the stage and recorded with legends such as Paul Simon, Paquita D. Rivera, Wynton Marsalis, and many others.



Clifton E. Shambry

Rachael Sawyer-Walker (EDIC) and Uma Mahalingam (EOF) were awarded $1350 towards a special event held by the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Compliance (EDIC), The First Generation Center, and the Educational Opportunity Fund. On Wednesday, November, 1, 2023, Clifton E. Shambry, Jr. visited as as keynote speaker to kick off First-Generation College Celebration Month.  Shambry, Ramapo College EOF Alumnus, is a Black, cis-man that is spiritual, queer, and a first-generation, limited-income (FLI) college graduate raised as a proud east coaster.  He serves as the Associate Director of Life Design for Diversity and Inclusion and Life Design Educator at Johns Hopkins University where he supports individuals and groups to leading with curiosity and connection to create one’s best life.  He enjoys helping folks think about how they can incorporate belonging, equity, and inclusion practices in their everyday lives and it shows through his honors as a leader in this work.  Participants in this engaging workshop, “Proud to Be First!,” heard about a journey of triumph leading to authenticity and fulfillment, and had the chance to imagine how all Roadrunners can live their best lives!

With a Schomburg award of $2500, Chris Reali (CA) was able to bring Grammy Award nominee, Amythyst Kia to campus as part of the Les Paul Concert.  On February 9, 2024, the Les Paul artist engaged in a conversation with Professor Reali which was open to all music majors and students interested in the music industry.  She discussed her career and focused on her approach to songwriting and getting her start in the industry.  The Les Paul Concert was held on February 10, 2024 in the Sharp Theater.

Person standing outside in a desert.

Amythyst Kiah, photo credit Todd Roeth

Amythyst Kiah’s Rounder Records debut, Wary + Strange, marks the glorious combination of
two vastly different worlds: the iconoclastic alt-rock that first sparked her musical passion and
the roots/old-time music scene where she’s found breakout success in recent years, including
recognition from Rolling Stone as “one of Americana’s great up-and-coming secrets.” With an
unforgettable voice that’s both unfettered and exquisitely controlled, the Tennessee-bred
singer/songwriter expands on the uncompromising artistry she most recently revealed as part of Our Native Daughters—an all-women-of-color supergroup whose Kiah-penned standout “Black Myself” earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best American Roots Song and won Song of the Year at the 2019 Folk Alliance International Awards. When met with the transcendent quality of her newly elevated sound, what emerges is an extraordinary vessel for Kiah’s songwriting: a raw yet nuanced examination of grief, alienation, and the hard-won triumph of total self-acceptance.

A $1500 Schomburg award made it possible for Professors James Hoch (HGS) and Hugh Sheehy (HGS) to welcome poets Ross Gay and Steve Scafidi to campus as part of the Readings at Ramapo series.

Person standing outside by the trees with arms crossed, smiling.

Ross Gay – Photo credit Natasha Komoda

Ross Gay is the author of four books of poetry:  Against Which; Bringing the Shovel Down; Be Holding, winner of the PEN American Literary Jean Stein Award; and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.  In addition to his poetry, Ross has released three collections of essays – The Book of Delights was released in 2019 and was a New York Times bestseller; Inciting Joy was released in 2022, and his newest collection, The Book of (More) Delights was released in September of 2023.


Person smiling

Steve Scafidi – Photo credit Isabella Scafidi

Steve Scafidi is the author of Sparks from a Nine-Pound Hammer (Louisiana State University Press, 2001), For Love of Common Words (LSU 2006), The Cabinetmaker’s Window (LSU 2014), To the Bramble and the Briar (University of Arkansas Press, 2014) and a chapbook Songs for the Carry-On (Q Avenue Press, 2013). He has won the Larry Levis Reading Prize, the James Boatwright Prize and the Miller Williams Prize. His poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, and he has taught at several universities including, most recently, in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. He works as a cabinetmaker and lives with his family in Summit Point, West Virginia.



Professor Ann LePore (CA) was granted a Schomburg award of $600 to put towards a Visual and Performing Arts Experts Panel which took place on February 24, 2024.  The panel included industry experts Jamil Primas of LightworQ and Hsiang Chin Moe of Women in Animation.

Jamil Primas has degrees in Visual Effects and Music Composition.  He got his start in Lighting and Technical Direction work at MPC Montreal working on X-Men:  Apocalypse, Pirates of the Caribbean:  Dead Men Tell No Tales, Wonder Woman, and more recently has been working as a Lighting and Compositing Artist in NYC for Hornet, BUCK, Brand New School, Scholar, and CHRLX.  In addition to working on a wide variety of projects with recognizable products, brands and characters, Jamil started LightworQ, a growing initiative to empower creative professionals in the industry with networking and portfolio tools.  When not working on VFX, Mr. Primas can be found composing, writing fiction and playing competitive video games.

Hsiang Chin Moe is an artist and educator currently serving as the Animation Chair at School of Visual Arts in New York City.  Hsiang is an active member of the global animation community.  She organizes and moderates an annual talent panel at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival where she works with animation executives, recruiters, artists, and educators to foster talents from all over the world.  She previously acted as Associate Director of the New York Digital Salon, working to create international dialogue and partnerships to celebrate animation, video, games, and interactive installations.  Hsiang now serves on the board of Women in Animation (WIA) organization as the Chair for Education program, where she works alongside the industry’s leading artists, filmmakers, recruiters, as well as educators and students.  WIA envisions a world in which people of all gender identities share fully in the creation, production, and rewards of animation, resulting in richer and more diverse entertainment and media that move our culture forward.


Shane McCrae

With an award of $2250, James Hoch (HGS) hosted author Shane McCrae as part of the Readings at Ramapo program on April 6, 2023.  Shane McCrae’s most recent books are Sometimes I Never Suffered, a finalist for the Maya Angelou Book Award, the T. S. Eliot Prize, and the Rilke Prize, and Cain Named the Animal, a finalist for the Forward Prize and longlisted for the PEN/Voelcker Award. In August, Scribner will publish his memoir, Pulling the Chariot of the Sun. He has received several awards and fellowships, including a Lannan Literary Award, a Whiting Writer’s Award, the 2023 Arthur Rense Poetry Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts. He lives in New York City and teaches at Columbia University.



Photo of Arminda Thomas

Arminda Thomas

Peter Campbell (CA) was awarded $500 to welcome dramaturg, director, and archivist Arminda Thomas to Ramapo on March 22, 2023.  Ms. Thomas discussed Black American playwright and writer Alice Childress, specifically her play Trouble in Mind, which was groundbreaking in the late 1950s and is currently undergoing a series of revivals, including its first Broadway production in 2021.

Arminda Thomas is a resident dramaturg and producing member of CLASSIX, and a resident dramaturg/curator for New Perspectives Theatre’s On Her Shoulders reading series.  She has served as associate artistic director and resident dramaturg for the Going to the River Festival and Writer’s Unit and as archivist and literary manager for Dee-Davis Enterprises.  She has worked as a dramaturg for various theatres, and is currently working on The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window by Lorraine Hansberry at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Picture of Dr. Yochai Ataria

Dr. Yochai Ataria

Jacob Labendz (Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies) was awarded $750 to host author and professor Dr. Yochai Ataria on March 21, 2023.  Dr. Ataria presented “The Suicides of Two Holocaust Survivors:  Primo Levi and Jean Amery.”

Dr. Ataria is an associate professor at Tel-Hai College, Israel.  He conducted his PhD in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and his post-doctoral research in the Neurobiology Department at the Weizmann Institute of Science.  He has published over 40 papers and authored several books including The Structural Trauma of Western Culture (2017); Body Disownership in Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (2018); The Mathematics of Trauma [Hebrew] (2014); Not in our Brain [Hebrew] (2019); Levi versus Ka-Tsetnik (2022); Consciousness in Flesh (2022).


Photo of Awa Jan Sogodogo making pots

Awa Jan Sogodogo making pots, in Sissingue, Côte d’Ivoire, 2011. Photo credit: Barbara Frank.

On March 9, 2023, John Peffer (CA) hosted Dr. Barbara Frank for Griot Potters of West Africa with an award of $691.  In Mali, West Africa, Dr. Frank has worked for four decades with ceramic and textile artists, leatherworkers, and blacksmiths researching their artistry, technology, and social identities.  She is the author of Mande Potters and Leatherworkers, Art and Heritage in West Africa (Smithsonian, 1998, 2001); and editor of Status and Identity in West Africa:  Nyamakalaw of Mande (Indiana, 1995).  She spoke about her most recent book, Griot Potters of the Folana (Indiana, 2021).




Photo of Dr. Priyanca Mathur

Dr. Priyanca Mathur

Sangamitra Padhy (SSHS) was awarded $2000 to bring refugee rights activist Dr. Priyanca Mathur to Ramapo College in March 2023 for classroom visits and two talks:  Persecuted Identities of Rohingyas in India:  State and Media Complicity and Stuck in Limbo:  Lives of Rohingya and Other Myanamarese Refugees in India.  Dr. Mathur has worked on refugee rights issues for over two decades.  In her first talk, she discussed the hyper-securitized lens through which the Indian state is approaching Myanmarese refugees and media complicity.  In her second talk, she reflected on her work with refugees who have been fleeing the southeast Asian state of Myanmar and taking refuge in India’s capital city New Delhi and its north-eastern states of Manipur and Mizoram.



Photo of L. James Hickmon

L. James Hickmon

Peter Campbell (CA) was awarded $250 to host L. James Hickmon on February 15, 2023.  In his talk Acting While Black, the Ramapo Theater program alum spoke to the Ramapo community virtually about being a working Black actor in the United States.  Mr. Hickmon completed his MFA in Acting at Florida State University – Asolo in 2019 and has worked with professional theaters such as Shakespeare & Company and The Urbanite.  In his final year at Ramapo, Mr. Hickmon won first prize in the Irene Ryan Acting Competition of the Kennedy Center College Theatre Festival, which earned him a full scholarship for his MFA.  He also directed and taught in various theaters and schools.  He has been seen on television and film, including Law & Order and FBI, and is currently playing the role of Frederick Douglass at freeFall Theater.



Picture of Amina Gautier

Dr. Amina Gautier

Professor Hugh Sheehy (HGS) and Professor James Hoch (HGS) were awarded $2500 to host distinguished author Dr. Amina Gautier on December 8, 2022 in the Berry Center.  Dr. Gautier delivered a reading of her short stories “Girl of Wisdom” and “Persphone”, took questions from the audience, and conversed with faculty and students.  Scholar, writer, and professor, Dr. Gautier is the author of three short story collections: The Loss of All Lost Things (Elixir Press), Now We Will Be Happy (University of Nebraska Press, 2014), which won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize and At-Risk (University of Georgia Press, 2011), which won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short FictionShe is the recipient of many honors and awards, including the 2018 PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story, and countless more.


Picture of Mike Nadijwon

Mike Nadjiwon

Professor Sarah Koenig (HGS) was awarded $2000 to bring Anishinaabe religious leader (or Midewiwin) and water walker Mike Nadjiwon to Ramapo College on October 17 and 18, 2022.  Mr. Nadijwon, from Ontario, Canada, shared his experiences as an indigenous religious leader and environmental activist.  As a Midewiwin, he works to train Anishinaabe and other indigenous peoples in traditional Anishinaabe religious practices.  He also works to protect and restore water sources through his water walks, where he and other activists walk the length of river systems and lakes to pray for the water’s healing and to draw attention to the need for environmental protection.


Professor Jacquelyn Skrzynski (CA) was awarded $800 to bring Jean-Marc Superville Soval to campus on November 11, 2021 for a public artist’s talk and a group critique with Visual Arts majors .  Jean-Marc Superville Sovak is a multidisciplinary artist whose work deeply involves the community around him.  He has collected and altered 19th century antique prints, built and toured a Tiny House of Steel, staged a neighborhood portrait drawing-as-oral-history storefront, produced videos of his doppelgangers, and given guided tours of NYC housing projects.  his work has been exhibited at the Katonah Museum, the Samuel Dorsky Museum, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Socrates Sculpture Park, and Manifesta 8 European Biennial.



Iraida Lopez (HGS) was awarded $800 to host Cuba Today:  Protests, Social Changes, and Political Perspectives with Julio César Guanche and Ailynn Torres Santana who lectured to Ramapo students virtually on November 11, 2021.  Guanche and Torres Santana are among the most exciting Cuban scholars today.  They have published and lectured widely on Cuban politics, history, and the legal system as well as Cuban demographics and feminist perspectives.  They are part of a group of contemporary academics who are articulating pointed critiques on Cuban socialism from a progressive point of view.


Picture of Yasmeen Sutton, Black Panther Party

Yasmeen Sutton

Picture of Francisco Torres, Black Panther Party

Francisco Torres

Picture of Claudia Chesson Williams, Black Panther Party

Claudia Chesson Williams

Professor Sandy Shevack (SSHS) was awarded $900 to host a virtual presentation on April 14, 2021 of leading members of the Black Panther Party.  Francisco Torres, Yasmeen Sutton, and Claudia Williams came together in a virtual panel to discuss the goals of the organization, the “Rainbow Coalition” they created to address social justice issues, their community service programs, and how to create a more equitable society for everyone.

Picture of Dr. Ahmed Reid - A Conversation of Reparations

Professors Roark Atkinson, CA, and Pinar Kayaalp, (HGS) were awarded $750 to host Dr. Ahmed Reid, an Associate Professor of History at Bronx Community College and a leading scholar of slavery, emancipation, and gender in the Caribbean region, to Ramapo on April 7, 2021 to give a presentation on racial discrimination and the complexity of systemic racism. Dr. Reid is a leading expert on Reparations for peoples of African ancestry who have origins in the Atlantic slave trade.

Flyer for Juan Gonzalez

Professor Edna Negron (CA) and the Communication Arts major and the Latino/a and Latin American Studies minor were awarded $750 to host Juan Gonzalez on March 24, 2021, as a special virtual lecturer.   Mr. Gonzalez is a top expert and journalist on Puerto Rico. He lectured on the impact of the Latino vote in the 2020 elections and the prospects for statehood for Puerto Rico.





Although funding was awarded for programs in spring of 2020, no programs were actually held because of the COVID 19 pandemic.  Programming resumed in spring of 2021.

Picture of Dr. Antawan I. Byrd

Dr. Antawan I. Byrd

Professor John Peffer (CA) was awarded $1179 to bring Antawan Byrd an African-American Associate Curator of Photography and Media at the Art Institute of Chicago, to Ramapo in November of 2019 to speak about his curatorial projects in both Chicago and West Africa.

Picture of Dr. Martine Green Rogers

Dr. Martine Green Rogers

Professor Daniel Ciba (CA) was awarded $1,000 to bring Dr. Martine Kei Green Rogers assistant professor at SUNY – New Paltz to Ramapo in November of 2019 to present about the importance of diversity for college theater production seasons, and to meet with faculty and students to discuss race, casting, and season planning.

Picture of Dr. Virginia Held

Dr. Virgina Held

The Philosophy Convening Group, consisting of Professor Lisa Cassidy, Professor Bernard Roy, and Professor Marta Vides Saade (HGS) was awarded $1500 to bring Dr. Virginia Held, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, CUNY Graduate Center to Ramapo in October of 2019 for a day of private and public programs. Her visit focused on determining what is “good care” within the relationship between care and justice, particularly the challenges posed to care work by intersectionality and the need for responsiveness to particular local, cultural, or religious norms, and gender relations.

Picture of Stan Thekaekara

Stan Thekaekara

Professor Ashwani Vasishth (SSHS) was awarded $4500 to bring Stan Thekaekara, a practitioner of community sustainability in India, to Ramapo in April 2019 to do a college-wide presentation and to conduct class presentations throughout the week.




Professor Seon Mi Kim (SSHS) was awarded $4,000 to bring Argentine Scholar and Disability Activist, Eduardo Joly to Ramapo to lecture in October of 2018.

Picture of Melvis Santa in Concert

Melvis Santa


Professor Marc Gidal (CA) was awarded $2,000 to bring Afro-Cuban musician Melvis Santa and her band Ashedi to Ramapo to present two demonstration-performances to students in October of 2018.



Picture of Shalom Gorewitz and Knust Scholars

Shalom Gorewitz and Knust Scholars

Professor Shalom Gorewitz (CA) was awarded $3,000 to bring 3 African artists from KNUST to Ramapo in the fall of 2018 for workshops and lectures. He was also awarded $2500 to bring renowned author Madison Smartt Bell to Ramapo in the spring of 2019 to present a lecture based on his epic trilogy about the Haitian revolution and his biography of Toussaint Louverture.

Picture of Madison Smartt Bell

Madison Smartt Bell


Picture of Cesar Comanche

Cesar Comanche

Professor Christopher Reali (CA) was awarded $800 to bring African-American hip-hop artist, Cesar Comanche to Ramapo for a lecture.



Picture of Esme Manful and Kwadwo Ofori-Dua

Esme Manful and Kwadwo Ofori-Dua


Professor Stephanie Sarabia (SSHS) was awarded $3,000 to bring Dr. Esmeranda Manful and Dr. Kwadwo Ofori-Dua to Ramapo from Ghana to lecture on their research and teaching in the field of social work.


Picture of Marta Ceia

Marta Ceia


Professor Stephanie Sarabia and her co-sponsor, Mia Serban (SSHS), were awarded $2,500 to bring Marta Ceia, a professor of Politics and Public Policy in Lisbon, Portugal to Ramapo.  Ms. Ceia conducted a presentation on the social justice approach of Portugal’s drug policy.


Picture of Raoul Peck - Filmaker

Raoul Peck


Professor Vassiliki Flenga (HGS) was awarded $10,000 to bring Haitian born film director Raoul Peck to Ramapo to give a talk about his Oscar nominated film, “I am Not Your Negro.”


Picture of Musicians from China


Professor Marc Gidal (CA) was awarded $2700 to bring musicians from India and China to Ramapo for a series of musical workshops.



Picture of Artist Sylvia Bofill

Sylvia Bofill


Professor Peter Campbell (CA) was awarded $2500 to bring artist/writer Sylvia Bofill to Ramapo for a talk about the new play Medea and its relationship to Puerto Rico.


Picture of Saumya Pant

Dr. Saumya Pant


Professor Ruma Sen (CA) was awarded $1,000 to bring Social Change Activist Dr. Saumya Pant to Ramapo to give an open lecture and workshops to Ramapo students.