Murray Jackson Award Recipients

2020-21 Recipient Christopher Collins

Professor Christopher CollinsMusic Professor Christopher Collins will use the Murray Jackson award to pursue the Havana-Detroit Jazz Project — Latino-Jazz Outreach Initiative, which will create an artistic bridge between Cuban and American jazz artists. The project will integrate cultural immersion, intergenerational fusion, cross-cultural exchange, educational workshops and performances.

Born in Detroit, Professor Collins is cited as holding a singular place in the Detroit culture and jazz scene. He is the Valade Endowed Chair in Jazz at Wayne State University, and president and artistic director of the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation. He is an internationally recognized jazz artist who has toured throughout Asia, South Africa, Europe and North America as the leader of his own ensembles and as a featured soloist. He has held numerous residencies; published recordings, compositions, articles, and book chapters; and presented as a lecturer and panelist around the world. Professor Collins has performed at jazz festivals including Cork, Ireland, Montreux-Switzerland, Panama, Pori, Nice, North Sea, and Glasgow.  He has won numerous awards, and was the first American to receive the Brusoni Award in Italy.

2019-20 Recipient Juanita Anderson

Juanita Anderson
Photo by Lauren Renner

Juanita Anderson is Senior Lecturer and Area Head of Media Arts and Studies in the Department of Communication at Wayne State University. 

A native Detroiter, she is a producer/director, executive producer and documentary filmmaker who has amassed a significant body of work in public television and independent media. Anderson holds seven Emmy Awards for her work on the groundbreaking African American television series Detroit Black Journal and Say Brother. She was executive producer of the 1988 Academy Award-nominated documentary feature film Who Killed Vincent Chin? (a film by Renee Tajima and Christine Choy) which was awarded a Columbia Silver Baton, a George Foster Peabody Award and the Wade McCree Award of Justice from the Michigan Bar Association. Anderson was also executive producer of the Favorite Poem Project Video Anthology, (2000, 2003, 2006, 2014), originally conceived and commissioned by U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky for the bicentennial of the Library of Congress.

A long-standing advocate for diversity in media, Anderson co-founded the National Black Programming Consortium in 1978 (now Black Public Media), and has served on the board of directors of the Independent Television Service. She is also a past president of the National Conference of Artists, the nation's oldest African American arts organization. She is currently a board member of the Michigan Chapter of the National Conference of Artists, and is an active member of Final Girls, a Detroit-based organization that supports the work of women media makers.

The Murray Jackson Award will advance Anderson's work as producer/director of Hastings Street Blues, a documentary film that will explore Detroit's mid-20th Century African American life, its pre-Motown musical legacy, and the city's transformation amidst unprecedented migration, racial turmoil, urban renewal, civil rights progress, and urban unrest.   Anderson is collaborating with writer/performance artist Marsha Music whose father, pioneering blues and gospel record producer Joe Von Battle, emerges as a central character in the film.

2018-19 Recipient Judith Moldenhauer

Judith MoldenhauerJudith A. Moldenhauer is Professor of Art, Graphic Design, in the James Pearson Duffy Department of Art and Art History at Wayne State University.

She is known for her insightful use of typography in user-centered healthcare information design and in the visualization of scientific concepts and data. Her projects include the development of materials for Healthy Start (a U.S. government program to reduce high infant mortality) and for doulas to help women deal with postpartum depression. She was the WSU PI for two U.S. Department of Education FIPSE grants (domestic and international) and co-investigator on several grants including the NIH grant for WSU BEST (Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training). Her awards include being named a 2006/2007 Fulbright scholar to Sweden and a Life Fellow of the Communication Research Institute (Australia). She has authored several publications and conference presentations on information design. 

The Murray Jackson award has allowed her to pursue her passion for typography and her work at the intersection of information design and science through the medium of letterpress. Her award project facilitated the restoration of WSU letterpresses and their accompanying equipment and the production of folios and posters using hand-set type and wood engravings to visually interpret several scientific concepts.

Professor Moldenhauer received an MFA from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, a MA from Stanford University, and a BFA with highest honors from the University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign.

2017-18 Recipient M. L. Liebler

M. L. Liebler
Photo by Jessica Trevino

M. L. Liebler is an internationally known and widely published Detroit poet, professor, literary arts activist and arts organizer. He has been teaching at Wayne State since 1980. 

He is the author of 15 books and chapbooks including Wide Awake in Someone Else's Dream (WSU Press 2008) featuring poems written in and about Russia, Israel, Germany, Alaska and Detroit. Wide Awake won both The Paterson Poetry Prize for Literary Excellence and The American Indie Book Award for 2009. In 2011, his groundbreaking anthology Working Words: Punching the Clock & Kicking Out the James (Coffee House Press) was given a Library of Michigan Notable Book Award. In 2017, Liebler received two Library of Michigan Notable Book Awards for both his new collection of poems, I Want to Be Once (WSU Press 2016) and for Heaven Was Detroit: An Anthology of Detroit Music Essays from Jazz to Hip-hop (WSU Press 2016).  

He is the founding director of both The National Writer's Voice Project in Detroit and the Springfed Arts: Metro Detroit Writers Literary Arts Organization.  

Liebler was named the first Poet Laureate for his hometown of St. Clair Shores in 2005. He has read and performed his work in Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine, Russia, China, France, UK, Macao, Italy, Germany, Spain, Finland and most of the 50 states. 

2016-17 Recipient Eva Powers

Eva Powers, associate professor and former department chair of Dance, has appeared as guest artist, choreographer and master teacher statewide, nationally and internationally. In her first years at Wayne State, she directed and choreographed for the WSU Dance Workshop/Company, creating more than 50 original works, often working in collaboration with visual artists and composers.

As a consultant in dance education for the Michigan Dance Association, Powers is well known for her exciting classroom work integrating dance and visual arts into the school curriculum and for conducting stimulating workshops for teachers. She served on the Board of Directors for the American College Dance Festival, the Michigan Youth Arts Festival and the Michigan Dance Council, which she co-founded with local dance educator Suzanna Michaels. In addition to her interest in children's dance, she developed an interest in dance science/medicine and injury prevention. To further her research, she became a certified Pilates instructor, and instructor trainer and examiner in the Stott Pilates method. She is also certified to teach GYROTONIC® and is completing certification requirements for Gyrokinesis. She has appeared as a guest artist teaching Pilates, conducting lectures and seminars in dance science and medicine and injury prevention at the University of Lisbon, Portugal; the University of Utrecht and the Hague in the Netherlands; in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Birmingham, England; Stockholm, Sweden; Urbania, Italy; and Grenada, Spain. 

The  Murray Jackson Award has allowed Powers to merge her interest in science in the area of brain neuroplasticity and dance for children. She has developed lessons and curriculum in dance, science and language arts to help young children with cognitive disabilities from lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan, learn through the art of dance.

2015-16 Recipient Chris Tysh

Chris TyshBorn and educated in Paris, poet, playwright and translator Chris Tysh has been on the faculty of the English Department at Wayne State University since 1989, where she teaches creative writing and women's studies. She has authored several poetry collections and completed a full screenplay based on a novel of Georges Bataille.

Her play, Night Scales, A Fable for Klara K, was produced at the WSU Studio Theatre (April 22-May 1, 2010) in Detroit under the direction of Aku Kadogo and, later that year, was published by United Artists. Her latest books are Molloy: The Flip Side (BlazeVox, 2012) and Our Lady of the Flowers, Echoic (Les Figues Press, 2013). She holds fellowships from the  National Endowment for the Arts and the Kresge Foundation. She has given readings in Los Angeles, New York, New Orleans, San Diego, Seattle, Paris and Prague, among many others. Her latest project, Hotel des Archives, features verse "transcreations" from the French novels of Beckett, Genet and Duras. She received a Board of Governors Award for Our Lady of The Flowers, Echoic in 2015. 

2014-15 Recipient James M. Thomas

James M. ThomasJames M. Thomas, professor, is a graduate of St. Ambrose College (B.A.), Villanova University (M.A.), and the University of Texas at Austin (Ph.D.). He came to Wayne State from Florida State University, where he was associate dean of the School of Theatre.

His most recent directing credits include MarriageThe SeagullThe Inspector General, and Death of a Salesman at the Hilberry Theatre, and The Skin of Our TeethA Flea in Her Ear, and Ah-Wilderness! at the Bonstelle Theatre. His publications include Script Analysis for Actors, Directors and DesignersThe Art of the Actor-Manager: Wilson Barrett and the Victorian Theatre, and translations of The Joy of RehearsalThe Craft of Rehearsal, and Beyond Rehearsal by Russian director Anatoly Efros. He is also director of the department's Summer Study Abroad Program with the Moscow Art Theatre School. His latest book, A Director's Guide to Stanislavsky's Active Analysis, was a direct outcome of the research supported by the Murray Jackson Award.

2013-14 Recipient Stanley Rosenthal

Stanley RosenthalStanley Rosenthal was born in Chicago in 1942 and grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. He holds a B.F.A. from Carnegie Mellon University and an M.F.A. from Wayne State University. He taught printmaking at Wayne State University for more than forty years, also serving several terms as graduate officer for the Department of Art and Art History.

Rosenthal has won numerous national and regional awards both as a printmaker and a painter. These include the top award in Watercolor USA (twice), State of the Art National Watercolor Invitational (twice), and the top award in numerous Michigan Water Color Society annual exhibitions.  His works are in many public and private collections, and he served as a juror and speaker at many venues.

Previously, Rosenthal served as chair of the Michigan Water Color Society, president of the Michigan Association of Printmakers, and artist/advisor to the Graphic Arts Council of the Detroit Institute of Arts. He was honored by Wayne State in 2001 with the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching.

2012-13 Recipient Anca Vlasopolos

Anca VlasopolosAnca Vlasopolos is professor emerita of English and Comparative Literature at Wayne State University, where she taught between 1974 and 2013.

She published Walking Toward Solstice, a collection of poems, in 2012;  The New Bedford Samurai, a historical trans-genre novel, 2007, winner of the Wayne State University Board of Governors Award, LiFE (literature for the environment) Award and nominated by the publisher for the Pulitzer, PEN-Faulkner, Kiriyama, and two Benjamin Franklin awards; Penguins in a Warming World, a poetry collection, 2007, from which three poems were nominated for Pushcart awards; No Return Address: A Memoir of Displacement (Columbia University Press, 2000), awarded the YMCA Writer's Voice Grant for Creative Non-Fiction in 2001, the Wayne State University Board of Governors Award, and the Arts Achievement Award in 2002. Also to her credit are three poetry chapbooks, Sidereal and Closer Griefs, Through the Straits, at Large, and The Evidence of Spring; a detective novel, Missing Members; as well as over two hundred poems and short stories.

Her scholarly publications include a book of literary criticism, entitled The Symbolic Method of Coleridge, Baudelaire, and Yeats, and more than thirty scholarly articles and book chapters on literature, theatre, and film.

Anca Vlasopolos was born in 1948 in Bucharest, Rumania. She immigrated to the United States with her mother in 1963. She was educated at Wayne State University (B. A. in French and English, with Honors in English, and highest distinction) and at the University of Michigan, where she earned a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature.

2011-12 Recipient Jim Hartway

Jim HartwayBorn in Detroit in 1944, Dr. James Hartway began a lifelong study of music with piano lessons at age seven. He earned Bachelor of Arts and Master of Music degrees from Wayne State University, and a Ph.D. in music from Michigan State University.

Dr. Hartway has received more than sixty commissions from major musical organizations and educational institutions, and has composed nearly one hundred symphonic and chamber works. He has been asked to create pieces for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the American Guild of Organists, the Michigan Opera Theater, and the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit for the Papal visit of John Paul II to the United States, among many others.  

His compositions have been performed at major concert halls throughout the United States, Canada, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in music for his concerto for jazz quartet and orchestra, "Cityscapes." He is the proud recipient of an Arts Foundation of Michigan Award. His "Affair of the Harp" CD was the Detroit Music Awards "Outstanding Classical Recording" for 2005.

Dr. Hartway is often influenced in his writing by local surroundings and conditions. His "City Sketches" and "Cityscapes" depict Detroit locations and conditions as does his "Detours."

In June 2012, Dr. Hartway retired as distinguished professor emeritus at Wayne State. In 1992 he received the university's highest honor when he was elected to membership in its Academy of Scholars. He is a past president of that organization.