FI Board Spotlight: Mudiwa Pettus

As a faculty member at Medgar Evers College, a predominantly Black institution with social justice at the center of its founding history and mission, Dr. Mudiwa Pettus is committed to helping to ensure that faculty, staff, and students at Medgar have more opportunities to participate and benefit from resources like those at FI.

Having been introduced to the Futures Initiative and nominated to the advisory board by Faculty Co-Chair Dr. Shelly Eversley, Dr. Pettus looks forward to contributing her knowledge and experience to support FI’s mission toward greater innovation and equity in higher education. “As a first-generation college graduate who benefited from programs designed to advance equity in higher education, I know how transformative FI’s central goals can be from firsthand experience. I was able to complete the journey of becoming a college professor due to the work of organizations, including the UNCF/Mellon Mays Fellowship program, and mentors who believed that academia shouldn’t be an affirming space only for the privileged few. I hope to re-circulate the communal energy that sustained me for so many years, to undergraduate and graduate students finding and making their way in academia currently.” 

Dr. Pettus is an Assistant Professor of English Composition and Rhetoric at Medgar, a member of the Executive Committee of the Conference on College Composition and Communication and an Executive Board member for its Black Caucus, an Advisory Board member of the Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric, and affiliated faculty with the Center for Black Literature.

She is currently completing a book project, Against Compromise: Black Rhetorical Education in the Age of Booker T. Washington, that traces the development of a collective African-American rhetorical consciousness through the oratorical career of Booker T. Washington. She is also guest editing the Spring 2024 issue of the Killens Review of Arts and Letters, and finalizing an article about building a writing program oriented by “Black abundance” co-authored with Kiese Laymon. The piece will be published in College English. Check out some of Dr. Pettus’ writing here.

In addition to pursuing her research and writing, Dr. Pettus enjoys serving as the Faculty Chair of the English department’s Advisement, Retention, and Mentoring Committee. The committee is charged with supporting students pursuing a major, minor, or concentration in English at Medgar Evers College as they complete their course work and pursue their professional goals. Dr. Pettus values her role on the Futures Initiative Faculty Advisory Board and sees FI as an extension of the equity work she has already been doing in the CUNY system.

Outside of the classroom and the academy, Dr. Pettus, who has resided in Brooklyn since moving to New York City to join CUNY in 2019, has an interest in community issues. “I try my best to be knowledgeable and respectful of my neighborhood’s rich history (shout out to Crown Heights!). With my emerging consciousness, I support the labor of community organizations, such as Brooklyn Movement Center, that are completing work related to food justice, tenant organizing, and restorative public health. Additionally, I like to explore the city on foot and try delicious restaurants. Send me your recommendations, dear readers!”


The Futures Initiative
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016-4309