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Nneka Dennie Receives Mellon Emerging Faculty Leaders Award The assistant professor of history is one of 10 faculty members nationwide to win the prestigious award.

Nneka-Dennie02-scaled-600x400 Nneka Dennie Receives Mellon Emerging Faculty Leaders AwardNneka Dennie, assistant professor of history

Nneka Dennie, assistant professor of history at Washington and Lee University, will receive the Mellon Emerging Faculty Leaders Award (MEFL), presented by the Institute for Citizens & Scholars.

Dennie is one of 10 scholars nationwide selected for the MEFL Award, which seeks to free the time of junior faculty whose research focuses on contemporary American history, politics, culture and society. This includes faculty from underrepresented groups and others committed to eradicating disparities in their fields. In addition to bringing a diversity of perspectives to their fields, MEFL awardees work to build support systems, networks and affinity groups for their students and peers.

The MEFL Award is funded by the Mellon Foundation and provides a $20,000 stipend, to be used for summer research support ($12,000) and research assistance during the academic year ($8,000).

Dennie will use the MEFL funds to hire a research assistant to support her work with the Black Women’s Studies Association. She will also continue her research and begin work on her second book, “(Re)defining Radicalism: The Rise of Black Feminism and the Politics of Respectability in the Nineteenth Century.” The publication will be a study of 19th-century Black women’s radical intellectual thought that examines their perspectives on slavery, suffrage, labor and transnationalism.

“I’m excited to join a distinguished network of scholars who are at the forefront of their fields and are leading national efforts to create equitable learning environments on their campuses and beyond,” said Dennie. “W&L’s unique history makes it imperative that I do not simply research and teach African American history but foster a sense of belonging among students and make research on race and racism accessible to the broader campus community. Off campus, my leadership of the Black Women’s Studies Association bridges national disciplinary divides in academia. As a member of the History, Africana Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies programs, I’d like to thank each of those department heads (Molly Michelmore, Michael Hill and Sarah Horowitz) for their support over the years and for helping me to find the optimal balance between scholarship, student-centered teaching and initiatives, and national service.”

A member of the W&L faculty since 2020, Dennie specializes in 19th- and 20th-century African American history, and her research examines Black intellectual history, Black feminist thought, transitional feminism and Black radicalism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science with honors in Africana studies from Williams College. She also earned a Master of Arts and Ph.D. in Afro-American studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she also received a graduate certificate in advanced feminist studies.

Established in 2015 as the Malkiel Scholars Award, the MEFL program was extended and renamed in late 2019. The more than 80 junior faculty members awarded this honor represent the next generation of leaders and scholars in the humanities and social sciences poised to play a significant role in shaping American higher education.

Formerly the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, the Institute for Citizens & Scholars is a 75-year-old organization that has played a significant role in shaping American higher education. Citizens & Scholars prepares leaders and engages networks of people and organizations to meet urgent education challenges. The overarching goal is to shape an informed, productively engaged, and hopeful citizenry.

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