JEFFREY DESSOURCES is the director of the Center for Leadership and Engagement at our home institution, New Jersey City University. He is also the co-founder (with Lenny Williams) of Trill or Not Trill? a culturally responsive leadership institute that focuses on “integrating unconventional audience driven and culturally relevant content into student success and professional development.” Jeff is also a poet, spoken word artist, rapper, keynote speaker, and academic. He is the author of five books, including his latest—co-authored with Lenny Williams—We Wear Kicks to Work: When Pop Culture Meets Education and Leadership.

We spoke with Jeff in August 2020, in the midst New Jersey’s pandemic lockdown and Black Lives Matter protests in the aftermath of the murder by police officers of George Floyd. Both events signal a reckoning within higher education where faculty, administrators, and students are contending with existential, foundational questions about their economic future, their purpose...

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