Meet the new leaders who have taken the helm at five schools over the past year:
Michael A. Lindsey, Silver School of Social Work, focuses on poverty, inequality, and child and adolescent mental health.
Victoria Rosner, Gallatin School of Individualized Study, is an expert in perspectives on literary modernism.
Troy McKenzie (LAW ’00), School of Law, is a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice.
Wendy Suzuki, Arts and Science, is a neuroscientist specializing in brain plasticity memory.
C. Debra M. Furr-Holden, School of Global Public Health, is an epidemiologist with expertise in health disparities.
—Illustration by Lauren Mortimer
These disquieting times call for a little poetry, and no one is better suited to provide it than Ada Limón (GSAS ’01). “Again and again, I have been witness to poetry’s immense power to reconnect us to the world, to allow us to heal, to love, to grieve, to remind us of the full spectrum of human emotion,” she said in response to the Library of Congress naming her the 24th poet laureate of the United States. Limón, the first Latina to hold the post, was complimenting the work of those she admires, but her words also describe her own verses. Since earning an MFA in the Creative Writing Program at the Graduate School of Arts and Science, her work has taken the world by storm. The Carrying (2018) won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry; Bright Dead Things (2015) was nominated for the National Book Award; she won a Guggenheim Fellowship for her body of work (2020); and her most recent book, The Hurting Kind (2022), garnered praise upon its release. Then there’s her poetry podcast, The Slowdown—something Limón most likely won’t get to do much during her tenure in the prestigious role.
“Again and again, I have been witness to poetry’s immense power to reconnect us to the world…”
After earning a BA from Smith College and a PhD from Johns Hopkins University, she worked for Congressmen John Brademas and Thomas S. Foley during their tenures as majority whip in the US House of Representatives. A born-and-bred New Yorker, she brought her political savvy, diplomatic skills, wit, and wisdom to this institution in 1982, where she remained for 40 years, eventually becoming senior vice president for University Relations and Public Affairs. In 2003, Brown cofounded this publication; since then, her imprimatur has graced every page. May her next chapter be full of adventure (and may she remain a loyal reader!).
Double the Congrats
Scoring a Pulitzer Prize is a huge deal, but lightning struck the Arts and Science History Department twice. Nicole Eustace, professor of history, won for her book Covered with Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America, while Ada Ferrer, professor of history and Latin American and Caribbean history, was honored for her title Cuba: An American History.
Past Is Prologue
In 1821, this country’s first Black theater outgrew its original home in the backyard of 38 Thomas Street, in Lower Manhattan. Its founder, William Alexander Brown, relocated the action to a 300-seat venue on Mercer and Bleecker streets in Greenwich Village. Patrons paid a quarter (twice that for the better seats) to watch the African Grove Theatre’s productions of William Shakespeare’s classics as well as operas (below, right), musicals, farces, pantomimes, ballets, and more, including original works by Brown.
The company’s principal player, James Hewlett, inhabited a multitude of parts, including the titular role in Richard III (illustrated above), and in so doing became the first renowned Black American Shakespearean actor. Yet another member, Ira Aldridge, later went on to enjoy a thriving career abroad as a celebrated thespian of the Bard’s repertoire.
Sadly, offstage drama overshadowed the glorious art that was happening onstage. Hostility from curious White spectators—and resentment from a nearby White-owned theater—resulted in repeated police raids and ugly harassment. The curtain tragically came down seemingly permanently on the African Grove Theatre in 1823.
But who doesn’t love a second act? Two centuries on, the groundbreaking theater is set to experience a long-overdue revival. A performance space of the same name and built on the original’s footprint will open this year at NYU’s new John A. Paulson Center, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor (to read about other recent gifts to the university, see “Carrying the Torch”). Students enrolled in the Grad Acting and Design for Stage and Film programs at the Tisch School of the Arts will perform there, with more usage and programming to be determined. The African Grove Theatre redux will serve multiple functions, but undoubtedly its starring role will be to serve as a living memorial to a transformational achievement in the nation’s Black history.
—Dulcy Israel • Photos: Courtesy of Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University (drawing); courtesy of the Black Music Research Journal (playbill)
Tisch School of the Arts professor Spike Lee (TSOA ’82, HON ’98; shown here, middle) screened his hit 1999 movie Summer of Sam with star John Leguizamo (TSOA, right) and cowriter Michael Imperioli (left) for his graduate film students. Set in 1977, the movie captured the chaos and tension as serial killer David Berkowitz terrorized New York City. “One Of My Favorite Joints And It Still STANDS UP 23 Years After Its Release Into Movie Theaters,” Lee posted on his Instagram @officialspikelee, followed by fire emojis. Couldn’t agree more.