Who We Are
Meet the Founding and Executive Director: Michelle Stephens
Michelle Stephens joined the Department of English and the Department of Latino and Caribbean Studies at Rutgers University–New Brunswick in spring 2011. She is a psychoanalyst and served as the dean of the humanities in the School of Arts and Sciences from 2017–2020. Originally from Jamaica, West Indies, she graduated from Yale University with a Ph.D. in American studies. She is the author of Black Empire: The Masculine Global Imaginary of Caribbean Intellectuals in the United States, 1914 to 1962 (Duke University Press, 2005) and Skin Acts: Race, Psychoanalysis and The Black Male Performer (Duke University Press, 2014). She has published numerous articles on the intersection of race and psychoanalysis in such journals as JAPA, Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Studies in Gender and Sexuality, and Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society. She has also coedited three recent collections in archipelagic studies: Archipelagic American Studies with Brian Russell Roberts (Duke, 2017); Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago with Tatiana Flores (Duke, 2017); and Contemporary Archipelagic Thinking with Yolanda Martínez-San Miguel (Rowman and Littlefield, 2020). She was a founding series coeditor of Rutgers University Press's Critical Caribbean Studies book series and sits on the editorial advisory board of Rowman and Littlefield's Rethinking the Island book series.
Reporting to the founding executive director, each campus director is a faculty member who oversees the implementation of the institute's mission at the local level. Directors cultivate and shape humanities-driven programs of excellence that involve a multidisciplinary collection of scholars whose work addresses racism and social inequality.
Erica Armstrong Dunbar: Institute Campus Director, Rutgers University–New Brunswick (On Sabbatical until 2024)
Charles and Mary Beard Distinguished Professor of History
Erica Armstrong Dunbar joined the Department of History at Rutgers University–New Brunswick in 2017. She holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University and specializes in African American, United States, and women’s and gender history, with specialization in late 18th-century and early 19th-century history. She is the national director of the Association of Black Women Historians.
Carlos Decena: Interim Institute Director, Rutgers University–New Brunswick and Cross-Campus Director of Undergraduate Intellectual Life
Associate Professor and Acting Chair, Latino and Caribbean Studies; Associate Professor, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Rutgers University–New Brunswick
Carlos Ulises Decena joined the Departments of Latino and Caribbean Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies in 2005. He is an interdisciplinary scholar of immigration and queer studies, and his research explores the meeting points of Black, ethnic, and area studies. A native of the Dominican Republic, Decena holds a Ph.D. in American studies from New York University. He currently serves as acting chair of the Department of Latino and Caribbean Studies, after having served as the department’s chair.
Mayte Green-Mercado: Institute Campus Director, Rutgers University—Newark
Associate Professor, History, Rutgers University–Newark.
Mayte Green-Mercado received her BA in European History from the University of Puerto Rico, and her PhD from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at The University of Chicago, specializing in Islamic Studies. Before coming to Rutgers, she was Assistant Professor of Mediterranean Studies in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. She is the director of the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Minor in the History Department. She teaches courses on Islamic Civilization, Islamic history in Spain and North Africa, and early modern Mediterranean history. Her courses deal with questions of religion, politics, identity, and race and ethnicity in the medieval and early modern periods.
Her current book project is concerned with histories of displacement, migration, and refugees in the early modern Mediterranean.
Gregory Pardlo: Institute Campus Codirector, Rutgers University–Camden
Associate Professor of Creative Writing; Director M.F.A. Program
Gregory Pardlo CCAS’99 joined the faculty of the Department of English and Communication at Rutgers University–Camden in 2016. He holds an M.F.A. from New York University and an M.F.A. in nonfiction from Columbia University. In 2015, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
Patrick Rosal: Institute Campus Codirector, Rutgers University–Camden
Professor of Creative Writing
Patrick Rosal joined the faculty of the Department of English and Communication at Rutgers University–Camden in 2011. He holds an M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence College. In 2018, he was named a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellow.
Finance and Administration
The senior director of finance and administration is the institute’s chief nonacademic officer, responsible for finance, administration, sponsored research administration, human resources, information technology, financial and strategic planning, and administrative support for the central and three campus institute offices. The position provides universitywide leadership in strategic operational and financial planning and management in support of institute academic, research, and business goals.
Jennifer Leon: Senior Director of Finance and Administration
Jennifer Leon started her career at the Office of Continuing Professional Education at Rutgers University in 1991. She is a Rutgers College graduate with a degree in visual arts who also completed a master’s degree in adult and continuing education from Rutgers’ Graduate School of Education. After moving on from her first position at the university, she has held the positions of program development administrator at the Center for Mathematics, Science, and Computer Education; associate dean for finance and administration at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology; and most recently, director of administration for the humanities at the School of Arts and Sciences.