The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Faculty Award recognizes outstanding faculty who exemplify the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s scholarship, life, and justice work and who promote the principles and ethos of Dr. King’s extensive global contributions in their research, teaching, leadership, and/or community-building efforts. These awards are of particular significance as they are driven by students. Student participation includes, but is not limited to, award development, nomination, selection, and recognition of faculty honorees who have made a substantial impact within the classroom, in advancing student research and co-curricular projects, and in their work with students across the greater NYU community.
Award Recipients, 2021–2022
Mercy Agyepong, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
Dr. Mercy Agyepong (she/her) is an assistant professor in the Sociology of Education program in the Department of Applied Statistics, Social Science, and Humanities. Her scholarship draws from critical social theory, sociology of education, sociology of race and ethnicity, sociology of immigration, urban education, postcolonial theory, African diaspora studies, and anti-Blackness studies.
Born in Accra and raised in the Bronx, she is particularly interested in the racialization and treatment of Black students in US public schools, with a specific focus on the school experiences and academic achievement of sub-Saharan African students in urban public schools. She has contributed to books such as Critical Theory and Qualitative Data Analysis in Education (Routledge Press), Erasing Invisibility, Inequity, and Social Injustice of Africans in the Diaspora and the Continent (Cambridge Scholars Publishing), and Reprocessing Race, Language and Ability: African-born Educators and Students in Transnational America (Peter Lang Publishers).
Dr. Agyepong holds a PhD in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also holds an MSEd in Education, Culture & Society from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in Sociology of Education from New York University, and a BA in Sociology from SUNY-Geneseo.
Joyce Apsel, Liberal Studies
Dr. Joyce Apsel has a multidisciplinary background in history, law, and sociology. She is a recipient of the NYU Distinguished Teaching Award and teaches in Liberal Studies’ Core Global Works and Society sequence and about human rights, humanitarianism, global violence, and peace studies in the Politics, Rights and Development concentration.
She is president of the Institute for the Study of Genocide, past-president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, and executive board member and NGO-DPI representative to the UN for the International Network of Museums for Peace.
Dr. Apsel emphasizes the centrality of teaching and the concomitant learning that accompanies it, as a core tenet of her life. Her first experience was in elementary school when she tried to teach her grandmother to read and write English so she could fulfill her dream of becoming a U.S. citizen. While this dream was never realized, Dr. Apsel never forgot the lessons she learned from this experience: learning through listening to her grandmother’s stories as an immigrant seeking safety and opportunity; gaining an understanding of the struggles people face as well as the potential and challenges of education.
As an educator and founder of Human Rights Works, Dr. Apsel has traveled nationally and internationally, leading workshops for students, teachers, docents, and community groups. These workshops focus on social justice and children’s rights and emphasize the inextricable links between human rights and wrongs, and their impact on individual lives and diverse communities. Over the last decade, the Global Liberal Studies curriculum has provided a new direction: enriching her teaching through the senior thesis courses where she has served as thesis advisor to students researching and writing about human rights issues such as the global migrant crisis, settler colonialism in the Americas and Liberia, transitional justice in Argentina, and internally displaced people in Syria, to name a few.
Her research interests include pedagogy, comparative genocide and human rights, peace studies, and museum studies. Recent publications include Introducing Peace Museums (2017), which was nominated for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize in non-fiction; Museums and Sites of Persuasion: Politics, Memory and Human Rights (2019, coedited with Amy Sodaro); and Genocide Matters: Ongoing Issues and Emerging Perspectives (2013, coedited with Ernesto Verdeja). Dr. Apsel has also published edited guidebooks for teachers including, Darfur: Genocide Before Our Eyes and Teaching About Human Rights.
Fred Carl, Tisch School of the Arts
Professor Fred Carl is an associate arts professor in the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program and is also one of the co-associate deans of faculty at the Tisch School of the Arts. His music composition work has been featured at multiple local, national, and international venues, including LaMaMa E.T.C., the 1996 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, St. Paul’s Penumbra Theater, the Public Theater, the Whitney Museum, the Vision Festival, and the National Black Arts Festival.
He has musically directed Kirsten Childs,’ The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, The Miracle Brothers, and several cabaret shows for Tony Award-winning actress LaChanze. In 2011, Professor Carl and writer Ed DuRanté’s adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novel, A Clockwork Orange, ran at London’s Theatre Royal Stratford East, and in 2012, he musical directed and arranged the score for the 10th anniversary revised version of Regina Taylor’s Crowns at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. In 2018 he composed the score of Becoming Ailey, a multimedia piece that played in NYC for the 60th anniversary season of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.
Professor Carl has co-led musical theatre writing workshops in the UK and Kenya, encouraging the sharing of more stories that are created by more people from more places.
Stephanie Cook, School of Global Public Health
Dr. Stephanie Cook’s overarching research focus is to understand how structural- and individual-level minority stressors contribute to mental health, physical health, and health behaviors across the life span. Further, she seeks to understand how features of close relationships can exacerbate or buffer the negative effects of minority stress on health.
Her work primarily focuses on young adults transitioning to adulthood who are at the intersection of racial/ethnic and sexual orientation status. In addition, much of her current work examines the links between minority stress (i.e., daily experiences of discrimination) and biological markers of stress (e.g. cortisol and c-reactive protein).
Dr. Cook’s substantive methodological and statistical focus is in the development and application of longitudinal study designs (i.e., intensive longitudinal designs) for determining how dynamic changes in features of minority stress (e.g., daily and momentary discrimination events) are associated with changes in risk behaviors and physical health (e.g., sexual risk and substance use, pre-clinical cardiovascular disease, and biological stress) among racial/ethnic and/or sexual minority young adults.
Dr. Cook is the director of the Attachment and Health Disparities Research Lab (AHDL) which is currently comprised of approximately 20 undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral fellows. She developed an integrated theory of adult attachment (the Integrated Attachment and Sexual Minority Stress Model [IASMS]; i.e., the development, or lack, of strong socio-emotional bonds) and minority stress (i.e., social stress experienced by individuals in minority social groups) as a means to better understand and address the health needs of disadvantaged youth transitioning to adulthood. Dr. Cook and her team’s long-term goal is to continue creating, implementing, and refining sustainable interventions to reduce the influence of stress on health, utilizing innovative methodologies.
Elizabeth Ellis, Faculty of Arts and Science
Dr. Elizabeth Ellis is an assistant professor of history and co-director of the Native Studies Forum at New York University. She is a scholar of Early American and Native American History whose research and teaching are driven by a passion to center Indigenous stories, voices, and perspectives.
Her forthcoming book with the University of Pennsylvania Press, The Great Power of Small Nations: Indigenous Diplomacy in the Gulf South, examines the formation of Native nations in the early southeast and the ways that Indigenous peoples shaped and limited the extent of European colonization. Dr. Ellis also writes about contemporary Indigenous issues and political movements and is committed to organizing and fighting for Indigenous self-determination. She is a citizen of the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma and has the honor of being the first member of her tribal community to hold a PhD in History.
Linda Lausell Bryant, Silver School of Social Work
Dr. Linda Lausell Bryant is a clinical associate professor and director of the Doctorate in Social Work program and the Adaptive Leadership in Human Services Institute at the Silver School of Social Work. She is also the Katherine and Howard Aibel Executive-in-Residence. She is devoted to developing the leadership capacities of social workers to spark change at the intersection of race, ethnicity, and social justice.
In 2020, she co-developed and implemented a faculty antiracism training to strengthen skills in antiracist pedagogy, inclusive teaching, and mentoring for all NYU Silver faculty. She is a sponsor and contributing author of Latinx in Social Work, a book of narratives for healing and justice. In her 35-year career, she has worked as the executive director of Inwood House where she served young mothers in foster care; an associate commissioner at the NYC Administration for Children’s Services; and a member of the NYC Panel for Education Policy.
She is currently board president of National Crittenton, pursuing social and systems change for young women. She is the recipient of the Latino Social Work Coalition’s 2021 Lifetime Achievement and Silver’s Distinguished Contribution to Student Engagement Awards. She has co-authored A Guide for Sustaining Conversations on Racism, Identity and Our Mutual Humanity, and Social Work: A Call to Action.
Cammie Kim Lin, Liberal Studies
Dr. Cammie Kim Lin is a clinical assistant professor in Liberal Studies. Her teaching and professional interests include writing, critical service learning, English education, pedagogy, and food studies. A veteran educator, Professor Lin began her career as a New York City public school teacher.
She received her doctorate in English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and has taught at every level from middle school through graduate school.
In addition to her teaching and writing, Professor Lin works with the Liberal Studies Service Ambassadors to run The Violet Pantry, a student initiative that seeks to bolster food security. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s belief that “peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits” weaves its way through her work, whether it is with the student pantry, her critical service-learning seminar, her writing classes, or even her food writing.
Professor Lin’s scholarly work has appeared in numerous academic journals and edited volumes, including English Education, Pedagogies of Kindness and Respect, and Engaging with Multicultural YA Literature in the Secondary Classroom. Her food writing has been published by Eater.com, and (Serious) New Cook, her forthcoming cookbook co-written with her sister, will be published by Rizzoli USA.
Jewell Jackson McCabe, Wagner Graduate School of Public Service
With wide-ranging experience in both the public and private sectors, Professor Jewell Jackson McCabe is a presidential, gubernatorial, and mayoral appointee; a consultant to major corporate, cultural, and civic institutions; a businesswoman who serves as a director of several boards; and founding national president of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.
In 1993, Professor McCabe was one of four candidates included on the “shortlist” for president of the NAACP, becoming the first woman in 84 years to be considered for chief executive officer of America’s leading civil rights organization. She has also been featured on news and general interest programs including Charlie Rose and the Today Show.
Professor McCabe is a former corporate director of Reliance Group Holdings, a publicly held Fortune 500 holding company. She is currently president of the board of the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) and previously served as a member of the board of trustees at Bard College and The Wharton School of Business. Notably, Professor McCabe was the first Black trustee of the board at Wharton, where she served for ten years and received two honorary doctorates.
Professor McCabe was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council where she served as a member of the congressionally-mandated Committee on Conscience. She was also appointed by Governor Mario M. Cuomo to the New York State Council on Fiscal and Economic Priorities. Professor McCabe served as chair of the New York State Job Training Partnership Council (the federal block grant to train the disadvantaged) and as a member of the New York City Commission on the Status of Women, which she was appointed to by Mayor Ed Koch and subsequently reappointed to by both Mayors David Dinkins and Rudy Giuliani. Her overriding objective as noted in an article in Fortune magazine is “to establish common ground for women-of-color between the public and private sectors.”
The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Faculty Award was presented during the NYU MLK Week 2022 (February 7–12). Recipients of the award received a research stipend and were recognized during a special ceremony.