Rebecca Ginsburg—Department of Landscape Architecture
"Race and Criminal Justice"
Rochelle Sennet—School of Music
"African Americans in Classical Music Spaces"
James Lee III—guest collaborator
Rebecca Ginsburg is cofounder and current director of the Education Justice Project (EJP), a unit of the University of Illinois. EJP is a comprehensive college-in-prison program that brings together scholars, students, and teachers dedicated to the vision of a more just and humane world. Through its educational programs, events, outreach, and advocacy, EJP supports critical awareness of incarceration and reentry, with special focus on the responsibility of institutions of higher education to engage systems-involved individuals during and after incarceration. Rebecca received her bachelor's degree in English from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, her JD from the University of Michigan Law School, and a PhD in architectural history from the University of California at Berkeley. She first became involved in prison education while a graduate student at Berkeley. Since that time, she has identified as a prison abolitionist. Rebecca has been a resident of Urbana-Champaign for 16 years. She shares a home with her husband, William Sullivan, and daughters Anna (13) and Isabella (9). It is her great pride that her children think there's nothing unusual about the fact that, as a university professor, she teaches in a prison and advocates for social change.
Rochelle Sennet is an associate professor of piano and the incoming College of FAA Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has established herself as a pianist, recording artist, teacher, and scholar. She was a prizewinner in numerous competitions, such as the Kingsville International Piano Competition and the U.S. Open Music Piano Concerto Competition, and was a national finalist at the Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Performance Competition. She frequently performs works by J. S. Bach and African American composers such as Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, H. Leslie Adams, James Lee III, Jeffrey Mumford, and George Walker. Her recent solo album, Alkebulan's Son: The Solo Piano Works of James Lee III, was released on Albany Records. She is also cofounder of award-winning Duo MemDi, a piano-violin duo established in 2010 on the principles of diversity and performing works by memory, a rarity in the field of chamber music. Sennet is a Yamaha Artist, a prestigious distinction granted by the storied instrument maker to recognize performers of critical acclaim. She currently serves as chair of the FAA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and was a fellow in the Office of the Provost's 2019–20 Emerging Pathways for Leaders Program. She has attended anti-racism conferences on and off campus, such as the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity, Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training's "Beyond Diversity," and the Faculty Women of Color in the Academy National Conference. As an outreach advocate, she has given performances in retirement homes, K–12 schools, and summer music programs and is passionate about introducing audiences to underrepresented voices of the past and present in the arts.
James Lee III, born in 1975, cites as his major composition teachers Michael Daugherty, William Bolcom, and Bright Sheng at the University of Michigan. He was also a composition fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center. Since 2006, his orchestral works have been commissioned and premiered by the National Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, New World Symphony, and the orchestras of Philadelphia, Grand Rapids, Cincinnati, and Atlanta. The have been conducted by such artists as Leonard Slatkin, Marin Alsop, Michael Tilson Thomas, Juanjo Mena, David Lockington, and Thomas Wilkins. International performances include appearances in England, Brazil, and Russia. During the 2019–20 season the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed Lee's Sukkot through Orion's Nebula in September, October, and November. During the 2020–21 and 2021–22 seasons, there are many more works of Lee scheduled for premieres.