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James Haywood Rolling Jr.

James Haywood Rolling Jr.

James Haywood Rolling Jr.

Interim Department Chair and Professor


African American Studies
200A Sims Hall
Office: 315.443.6779


Lender Center for Social Justice
School of Education


  • Ed.D. Art Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, 2003
  • Ed.M. Art Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, 2001
  • M.F.A. Experimental Studios/Studio Research, Syracuse University, 1991
  • B.F.A. Visual Arts, Creative Writing, The Cooper Union, 1988

Social/Academic Links

Biographic Overview

A member of the Syracuse University faculty since 2007, James Haywood Rolling Jr. has been named interim chair of the Department of African American Studies (AAS) in the College of Arts and Sciences, with his term beginning May 8, 2024. He is also professor of arts education in the School of Education (SOE) and previously held a dual appointment in the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA). He will continue his commitment to SOE during his tenure as interim chair of AAS.

Professor Rolling has served as chair of the Arts Education programs in VPA, and is currently an affiliated faculty member with AAS and the Lender Center for Social Justice. Rolling earned his MFA in studio arts research at SU while studying as a graduate fellow in AAS. Most recently, he has also served as co-director of the University’s Lender Center for Social Justice and as 37th president of the National Art Education Association, both from 2021 through 2023.

Rolling most recently published Growing Up Ugly: Memoirs of a Black Boy Daydreaming (Simple Word Publications), a coming-of-age tale of an injured Black boy who learned to defy the gravity of racism and historical inequities in the United States through his own “creative superpowers.” In addition, Rolling has authored several books and more than 35 peer-reviewed articles and papers, fourteen book chapters, and five encyclopedia entries on subjects ranging across the arts, education, creativity, and human identity.

Research Interests

African American Studies; Arts-based Research; Narrative Inquiry; Creative Leadership

Dr. Rolling’s scholarly interests include African American studies, arts-based research, creative leadership, community-engaged scholarship, narrative research methods, and the study of identity.

Honors and Awards

  • Elected to Board of Trustees, The Cooper Union, 2024
  • Appointed to Board of Trustees, Everson Museum of Art, 2020
  • Inducted to 2017 Class of Distinguished Fellows of National Art Education Association (NAEA)
  • National Higher Education Art Educator Award, 2014

A founding member of the Black Trustee Alliance for Art Museums, Rolling has also served as the architect and inaugural Chair of the NAEA Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion commission, as well as that association’s Higher Education Division Director. From 2015-2017, Rolling was the Senior Editor of Art Education, the official bi-monthly journal of the National Art Education Association, covering a diverse range of topics dealing with subjects of professional interest to arts & design educators. As a consultant, Dr. Rolling has an expertise in both creative placemaking and STEAM initiatives especially in support of the development and revitalization of local BIPOC communities.