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Faculty Award

The New York University Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Faculty Award is sponsored by The Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Student Diversity Programs and Services (a division of Student Affairs), and the Center for Multicultural Education and Programs. Its purpose is to recognize faculty members who exemplify the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. through their positive impact within the classroom and the greater NYU community. NYU students nominate faculty members who are considered and then chosen by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Faculty Award Committee.

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Yemane I. Demissie, Associate Professor in Kanbar Institute of Film and Television at New York University’s Tisch School of Arts

Yemane I. Demissie is an independent filmmaker who has received numerous national and international grants and fellowships for his work including Best Picture nominee at M-NET’s All Africa Film Awards, the Walter Mosley award for Best Documentary and the Locarno Film Festival Production Grant.

Currently, Yemane is in postproduction on The Quantum Leapers: Ethiopia 1930-1975, a social history documentary series on Ethiopia. In 2009, Yemane completed Dead Weight, a narrative feature and Twilight Revelations: Episodes in the Life & Times of Emperor Haile Selassie, a one-hour documentary for MNET’s seven-part series entitled Great Africans. Tumult, his first narrative feature, screened at over 40 international film festivals.

Since 2007, Yemane has been teaching directing, screenwriting, film history and criticism and film production in the department of Film and Television at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Prior to his move to New York City, Yemane taught filmmaking at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and UCLA Extension.


Shabnam Javdani, Assistant Professor, Applied Psychology, Steinhardt School of Culture, Media and Human Development

Shabnam Javdani received her Doctorate in Clinical and Community Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and completed a psychiatric internship at the Institute for Juvenile Research at the University of Illinois, Chicago. She is currently an assistant professor at New York University, and a recent recipient of NYU's Gabriel Carras Research Award for her work on gender-specific pathways to violence and disruptive behavior disorders. Her research involves examining the distinct pathways through which women and girls engage in violence, and understanding how the systems that respond to violence can detrimentally influence outcomes for families. Her research is also characterized by a social justice focus, with an emphasis on the development, implementation, and evaluation of advocacy, mental health, and sociopolitical development programming for young women involved in the juvenile justice system. Her interventions are currently being implemented within the Department of Juvenile Justice. Her work, including 30 manuscripts and chapters, has been published in Clinical Psychology Review, the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, and the American Journal of Community Psychology.


Elizabeth OuYang, Adjunct Professor, Social and Cultural Analysis College of Arts and Sciences

Elizabeth R. OuYang has taught adjunct at New York University for 13 years. Her first course, "Asian Americans and the Law" transitioned to a comparative constitutional course affecting African, Latino, and Asian Americans. Her class composition mirrors the diversity society struggles to achieve. With 26 years as a civil rights attorney and as president of OCA-NY - a volunteer organization advocating for the civil rights of Asian Americans, Ms. OuYang challenges her students to formulate opinions on historical and present day issues involving voting rights, immigration, affirmative action, and racial profiling by combining readings, field research, and interaction with community struggles. Her students played an active role in seeking justice for Private Danny Chen, a 19 year old soldier who died after been hazed and racially taunted by his superiors; advocating for comprehensive immigration reform; and in closing the Spofford Juvenile Detention Center. Ms. OuYang received the 2010 "Ambassador Award" from Mayor Bloomberg and the 2004 "Outstanding Teaching Award" from NYU's College of Arts and Sciences. Ms. OuYang's cases have been covered numerous times by The New York Times and her commentary," Can Military Courts Deliver Justice to a Subordinate Hazed by Superiors" was published in the 2012-2013Asian American Policy Review, Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Ms. OuYang also teaches at Columbia University's Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race. In 2000, President Clinton appointed Ms. OuYang to serve as special assistant to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.


Marcella Runell Hall Clinical Instructor, Silver School of Social Work; Director Of Many Institute for Multifaith Leadership; Co-Director Center for Spiritual Life

Dr. Runell Hall is the founding co-director for the Of Many Institute for Multifaith Leadership (OM) and clinical faculty at NYU’s Silver School of Social Work, with part time teaching appointments in both Gallatin and Steinhardt. Hall is also the program director for the minor in Multifaith & Spiritual Leadership. Hall earned her doctorate in Social Justice Education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She has edited three award-winning books, The Hip-Hop Education Guidebook: Volume 1 (2007) with Martha Diaz, Conscious Women Rock the Page (2008), and Love, Race & Liberation (2010) with Jennifer “JLove” Calderon. Additionally, she has written for Scholastic Books, the New York Times Learning Network,VIBE, and various academic journals, including Equity and Excellence in Education. She was the Interim Director of the Center for Multicultural Education and Programs until Spring 2012 where she co-founded the Administrator Cultural Training Institute, the Hip-Hop & Pedagogy Initiative and the Intergroup Dialogue Program. Prior to working at NYU, Dr. Runell Hall was an Education Fellow at the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding. Hall has won numerous awards for her teaching, writing and program development, including the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) K. Patricia Cross Future Scholar’s Award in 2009.


Bryan Stevenson, Professor, Clinical Law School of Law

BRYAN STEVENSON is the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. Mr. Stevenson is a widely acclaimed public interest lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated and the condemned. Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill and aiding children prosecuted as adults. EJI recently won an historic ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court holding that mandatory lifewithout-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger are unconstitutional. EJI has also initiated major new anti-poverty and anti-discrimination efforts. Mr. Stevenson’s work fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system has won him numerous awards including the ABA Wisdom Award for Public Service, the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Award Prize, the Olaf Palme International Prize, the ACLU National Medal Of Liberty, the National Public Interest Lawyer of the Year Award, the NAACP Ming Award for Advocacy, the Gruber Prize for International Justice and the Ford Foundation Visionaries Award. He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Government, has been awarded 13 honorary doctorate degrees and is also a Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law.

featured guest

Listen to the critical perspectives of several guests as they present their views and ideas and engage in dialogue surrounding the costs of failing to realize the dreams that Dr. King articulated fifty years ago. We will also be presenting the NYU MLK Jr. Humanitarian Award.

Join us for a stimulating evening of reflection and conversation as we challenge ourselves to move forward from dreaming to action. RSVP here!

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Future Nominations

You may send nominations for consideration to Candace Collins via mail, email or fax:

Manager, Faculty Affairs Special Projects
Office of the Provost 
New York University (email)
212-995-4300 (fax)

Submit a Nomination Today

The Provost's prestigious Martin Luther King, Jr. Faculty Award is presented to outstanding faculty nominated by students, who exemplify the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through their teaching, their social and/or political activities, the inspiration they provide, their leadership, and/or their community building activities. They make a positive impact within the classroom and in the greater NYU community.

The Provost, in partnership with the NYU Division of Student Affairs, will present the 2013 Martin Luther King, Jr. Faculty Award - which includes a $2500 research stipend - at the Faculty Award Reception during MLK Celebration Week in February 2015.


All full and/or part-time NYU faculty members are eligible; past recepients are ineligible.


December 10, 2014


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