Hartford Dissertation Fellowship

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 non-profit, 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.

Competition for 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 web site). Screening begins in February.

The University of Hartford's academic mission is to engage students in acquiring the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to thrive in, and contribute to, a pluralistic, complex world. The full text of our academic mission and the university can be seen at www.hartford.edu

The University of Hartford is an open and welcoming community, which values diversity in all its forms. In addition, the University aspires to have its faculty and staff reflect the rich diversity of its student body and the Hartford region. Candidates committed to working with diverse populations and conversant in multicultural issues are encouraged to apply.

Potential McLean Fellows are nominated by an academic department at the University of Hartford.  If you are interested in being considered, send your vita to Woody Doane at doane@hartford.edu and he will forward it to the appropriate department chair.  You may also contact the department chair directly if you prefer.

The nominations process for the 2018-2019 academic year is now OPEN. The deadline for the academic departments to submit nominations is January 23, 2018. For a copy of the 2018-2019 call for nominations, please click here.

Jackie McLean Fellows

Bianca Gonzalez-lesser (current fellow)

Bianca Gonzalez-Lesser is a visiting instructor in Sociology in Hillyer College. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Connecticut. 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.

Ines Rivera Prosdocimi 


Ines Rivera Prosdocimi was a 2016-2017 fellow in the Department of Engligh 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 Carribbean 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 


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 


Markeysha 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 Austin


Paula C. Austin, holds a PhD in history from the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. She holds 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


Cesar 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


Adryan 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 B.S. in Psychology from the University of Florida and an M.A. 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


Lisa earned a PhD in music composition from Princeton University and joined the Division of Music Composition in the Hartt School. Coons also holds an MFA in 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


Lummie 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


Laura spent her 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 B.A. in American Studies from Wesleyan University and an M.A. 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


Meredith, a Jackie McLean Fellow in Sculpture, holds an M.F.A. degree from Cornell University and a B.F.A. 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 Universität 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


Nadia, 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-Peña


Karen 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 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 habitus appears in Humanity & Society, Interface: a Journal for and about Social Movements and Latino Studies.   

This year the program will award approximately 36 dissertation fellowships. The dissertation fellowships provide one year of support for individuals working to complete a dissertation leading to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Science (Sc.D.) degree. The Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship is intended to support the final year of writing and defense of the dissertation.

Dissertation fellowships will be awarded in a national competition administered by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on behalf of the Ford Foundation. The awards will be made to individuals who, in the judgment of the review panels, have demonstrated superior academic achievement, are committed to a career in teaching and research at the college or university level, show promise of future achievement as scholars and teachers, and are well prepared to use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students. 

Click on the links below to learn more about each aspect of the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship


Dissertation Eligibility

In addition to the other dissertation program level requirements, eligibility to apply for a dissertation fellowship is limited to:

  • All U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and U.S. permanent residents (holders of a Permanent Resident Card), as well as individuals granted deferred action status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, political asylees, and refugees, regardless of race, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or sexual orientation,
  • Individuals with evidence of superior academic achievement (such as grade point average, class rank, honors, or other designations),
  • Individuals committed to a career in teaching and research at the college or university level,
  • Ph.D. or Sc.D. degree candidates studying in an eligible research-based discipline in a dissertation-required program at a non-proprietary (not for profit) U.S. institution of higher education who will complete the dissertation in a period of 9-12 months during the 2018-2019 academic year, and
  • Individuals who have not earned a doctoral degree at any time, in any field.
Receipt of the fellowship award is conditioned upon each awardee providing satisfactory documentation that he or she meets the eligibility requirements.

Criteria for Selection

The following will be considered as positive factors in choosing successful candidates:
  • Evidence of superior academic achievement
  • Degree of promise of continuing achievement as scholars and teachers
  • Capacity to respond in pedagogically productive ways to the learning needs of students from diverse backgrounds
  • Sustained personal engagement with communities that are underrepresented in the academy and an ability to bring this asset to learning, teaching, and scholarship at the college and university level
  • Likelihood of using the diversity of human experience as an educational resource in teaching and scholarship
  • Membership in one or more of the following groups whose underrepresentation in the American professoriate has been severe and longstanding:
    • Alaska Natives (Aleut, Eskimo, or other Indigenous People of Alaska)
    • Black/African Americans
    • Mexican Americans/Chicanas/Chicanos
    • Native American Indians
    • Native Pacific Islanders (Hawaiian/Polynesian/Micronesian)
    • Puerto Ricans

Applications will be evaluated by panels of distinguished scholars selected by the National Academies. The panels will use academic records, essays, letters of recommendation, the application itself, and other appropriate materials as the basis for determining the extent to which candidates meet the eligibility requirements and the selection criteria. Review panels may also look at additional factors such as whether the applicant has advanced to dissertation candidacy and will fully utilize 9 to 12 months of fellowship support prior to receiving the Ph.D. or Sc.D.

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Eligible Fields of Study

Awards will be made for study in research-based Ph.D. or Sc.D. programs that include the following major disciplines and related interdisciplinary fields: American studies, anthropology, archaeology, art and theater history, astronomy, chemistry, communications, computer science, cultural studies, earth sciences, economics, education, engineering, ethnic studies, ethnomusicology, geography, history, international relations, language, life sciences, linguistics, literature, mathematics, performance study, philosophy, physics, political science, psychology, religious studies, sociology, urban planning, and women’s studies. Also eligible are interdisciplinary ethnic studies programs, such as African American studies and Native American studies, and other interdisciplinary programs, such as area studies, peace studies, and social justice. Research-based fields of education are eligible if the major field of study is listed above and is used to describe the Ph.D. or Sc.D. program of the applicant (e.g., sociology of education, anthropology and education).

The complete list of eligible fields of study supported at the dissertation level of the fellowship program is available here: Eligible Fields of Study List.

Individuals enrolled in the following practice-oriented programs will not be supported: administration, audiology, business, consumer studies, curriculum development, human resource management, exercise physiology, filmmaking, fine arts, guidance, kinesiology, leadership, library and information science, management, nursing, occupational health, performing arts, personnel, physical education, physical therapy, public health, rehabilitation science, social welfare, social work, speech pathology, and teacher education. In addition, awards will not be made for work leading to terminal master’s degrees, the Ed.D. degree, the degrees of Doctor of Fine Arts (D.F.A.) or Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.), or professional degrees in such areas as medicine, law, and public health, or for study in joint degree programs such as the M.D./Ph.D., J.D./Ph.D., and M.F.A./Ph.D. This program does not support the Ph.D. portion of a dual-degree program. Interdisciplinary areas of study that have major content in ineligible fields listed above will not be included in the competition. 

Fellowship Institution

Fellowships are tenable at any fully accredited, non-proprietary (not for profit) U.S. institution of higher education offering a Ph.D. or Sc.D. degree in the eligible fields of study. 

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Verification of Doctoral Degree Status

  • In order to compete, applicants must have successfully achieved doctoral degree candidacy as defined by this program: applicants must have completed all departmental and institutional requirements for their degree, except for writing and defense of the dissertation. These requirements include, for example, required course work, language requirements, admission to doctoral candidacy, and approval of the dissertation proposal. A valid Academies Verification of Doctoral Degree Status Form, signed by the adviser or other authorized official, must be uploaded to the online fellowship application before 5:00 PM ET on January 9, 2018 to confirm that an applicant has advanced to doctoral candidacy. 
  • Applicants should expect to complete the dissertation during the 2018-2019 academic year.

Stipend and Benefits


The tenure of a dissertation fellowship will be no less than 9 months and no more than 12 months.

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Conditions of the Fellowship

Dissertation fellows are expected to be engaged in a full-time program leading to a Ph.D. or Sc.D. degree in an eligible field of study. Those who accept a dissertation fellowship must agree to the stipulations in the Terms of Appointment for Ford Foundation Fellows that accompanies the award notification. In addition, Ford Fellows must agree to participate in regular updates of the Directory of Ford Fellows, as well as periodic surveys designed to demonstrate the impact of this program.

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