Each fall we welcome a new crop of faculty to the School of Arts & Sciences Newark, and this year is no exception. A total of 13 scholars and instructors will start at SASN this semester, with more arriving in spring. Below, in Part 3 of our fall series, is our introduction to the third and final group joining our family
MFA Creative Writing Program
Naomi Jackson is Assistant Professor in the Department of English and the MFA Creative Writing Program. A graduate of Williams College, she studied fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and traveled to South Africa on a Fulbright scholarship, where she received an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town. She was the 2018-19 Writer-in-Residence at Queens College, CUNY, and previously taught at the University of Iowa, University of Pennsylvania, City College of New York and Oberlin College. Her areas of interest around teaching include coming-of-age novels, Black women's fiction, and postcolonial literature from the Caribbean and Africa. She’ll be teaching an MFA graduate fiction workshop and an undergraduate literature course this academic year.
Jackson, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, by West Indian parents, is the author of the novel The Star Side of Bird Hill, which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and longlisted for the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize, the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, and the International Dublin Literary Award. Her work has appeared in literary journals and magazines in the United States and abroad, including Harper’s, The Washington Post, brilliant corners, Poets & Writers, and The Caribbean Writer. She is the recipient of residencies and fellowships from Bread Loaf, MacDowell Colony, Djerassi, the University of Pennsylvania’s Kelly Writers House, Hedgebrook, the New York Foundation for the Arts, Bronx Council on the Arts, and the Camargo Foundation.
“I'm thrilled to be joining the all-star Creative Writing faculty at Newark, and I look forward to mentoring young writers in the MFA program and cultivating a love for literature among undergraduate students,” said Jackson. “I'm impressed by the Creative Writing Program's deep ties to the city of Newark, from the schools to the local literary community, and I look forward to making a contribution to both the campus and the city.”
Vandeen Campbell joins The Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies and the Department of Urban Education at RU-N as Assistant Research Professor and Senior Quantitative Director. She will develop and lead several research projects in urban education and will provide leadership in partnerships with area public schools.
Campbell completed her Ph.D. in Sociology at the Graduate Center of CUNY and an M.A. in Sociology from Queens College, CUNY, specializing in applied statistics and social research. She was formerly the Director of the Office of Research, Evaluation and Program Support (REPS) at the City University of New York (CUNY), where she led a team of more than 30 analysts and research fellows, and managed a portfolio of more than 40 research and evaluation projects in K-12 education, college access and success, and career success. She was previously an elementary school teacher with the New York City Department of Education and an adjunct lecturer at CUNY. With a focus on equitable outcomes for youth in struggling districts, her research interests include school organization and improvement, college access and success, parental engagement, and quantitative methodology.
"Joining RU-N is an exciting career opportunity for me. The University's mission to conduct work that is socially impactful for and in collaboration with neighboring communities aligns well with my personal and professional drive,” said Campbell. “My positions will enable me to connect and advance important bodies of work in school improvement, and I am eager to grow among Rutgers University's impressive network of faculty and staff."
MFA Creative Writing Program
Akil Kumarasamy is Assistant Professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing. Before arriving to RU-N, she taught at the Helen Zell Writers' Program at the University of Michigan, where she received her MFA in Creative Writing. Past courses include Fiction Workshop, Graphic Novels & Film, and Aesthetics of Resistance: Science Fiction & Social Justice.
A New Jersey native, Kumarasamy is the author of the story collection, Half Gods, published by FSG in 2018, which was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and was the recipient of the Story Prize Spotlight Award and a finalist for the PEN/Robert Bingham Prize. Her work has appeared in Harper’s, American Short Fiction, and Boston Review, among others. She has received fellowships from the University of East Anglia, the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, Yaddo, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
“I feel very excited and honored to be joining Rutgers-Newark,” said Kumarasamy. “As someone who grew up in New Jersey, I find much inspiration in being back in my home state and particularly in Newark, with its rich history in art and activism.”,