James Haywood Rolling, Jr.

James Haywood Rolling, Jr. A'88 is a professor of arts education and teaches courses in both creative leadership and research for Syracuse University’s College of Visual & Performing Arts and its School of Education. Dr. Rolling has served as chair of the university’s arts education programs since 2007 and is also an affiliated faculty member with Syracuse University’s Department of African American Studies and The Lender Center for Social Justice. From 2018 to 2020, Rolling was appointed to serve as the inaugural Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Syracuse University’s College of Visual & Performing Arts. 

Nationally, Dr. Rolling has completed his elected term of office as the 37th president of the National Art Education Association (NAEA) and will now take on the responsibilities of past president including service as chair of the NAEA Finance Committee. Over his two years as NAEA President-Elect, Dr. Rolling championed the cause of achieving greater diversity throughout the visual arts fields as the inaugural chair of the NAEA Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Commission, overseeing the dedicated work of 11 commissioners from around the nation representing various arts and museum education related fields. Dr. Rolling’s initial service on the Board of Directors of NAEA was as the association’s Higher Education Division Director from 2011-2013. His record of professional contributions is highlighted by his recognition as the 2014 recipient of the National Higher Education Art Educator Award for outstanding service and achievement of national significance; his work from 2015-2017 as senior editor of Art Education, a bi-monthly research journal for arts education practitioners; and his induction as part of the 2017 class of NAEA Distinguished Fellows in recognition of a career of exemplary accomplishment in research, scholarship, teaching, and leadership in the field. 

Outside the sphere of higher education and nonprofit leadership, Dr. Rolling is the founder and principal of JHRolling Arts, Education, Leadership Strategies, a Black-owned consulting enterprise founded with a unique expertise in support of visual arts, design, media arts, and STEAM education initiatives; U.S. and regional creative placemaking projects investing in the revitalization of historically under-resourced BIPOC communities; grant-writing and fundraising support for entertainment, media, and creative ventures; and facilitating storytelling and script development for projects across entrepreneurial sectors. Our proprietary diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies offer guide rails supporting the growth of organizations and their resources as they strive toward their next creative leap.

In his earlier education, Dr. Rolling earned an M.F.A. in studio arts research from the Experimental Studios department that once existed at Syracuse University, having earned a fully funded graduate fellowship in the Department of African American Studies. He completed his doctoral studies in art education in 2003 under the mentorship of Drs. Graeme Sullivan and Judith Burton at Teachers College, Columbia University. As the coordinator for K-12 New York State art teacher education programs at Syracuse University, Dr. Rolling has actively worked to reconceptualize of the arts education discipline as a natural nexus of interdisciplinary scholarship where visual art, design, STEAM, and other media arts practices emerge as an avenue for social responsibility. 

As a visual artist, Dr. Rolling focuses on mixed-media explorations and portraiture of the human condition, viewing studio arts practices as an essential form of social research. As a researcher, he is devoted to telling the story of how human beings creatively constitute, shape, and reinterpret personal and collective identity.  

A former elementary school art teacher, Dr. Rolling is the author of several books and more than 35 peer-reviewed articles and commentaries, fourteen book chapters, and five encyclopedia entries on the subjects of the arts, education, creativity, and human identity. At the end of 2020, he published Growing Up Ugly: Memoirs of a Black Boy Daydreaming (Simple Word Publications), an inspirational coming-of-age narrative tracing his emergence as a painfully shy child raised in a struggling inner-city New York neighborhood who learned to rewrite the trajectory of his life story through the development of his own creative superpowers. Dr. Rolling is also a member of the Board of Trustees at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, NY.

Role: Alumni Trustee 
Elected to the Board: February 2024 
Class Term: 2024 
Term Limit: 2028  

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.