Drama Professor Janice Ross wins 2011 Roland Volunteer Service Prize

The Roland Prize citation honoring Ross, director of the Dance Division in the Drama Department, praised her "for modeling a life of service that includes and integrates scholarship, social awareness and community learning."

Courtesy of Janice Ross Janice Ross portrait

Drama Professor Janice Ross

Janice Ross, who created and has taught "Dance in Prisons: The Arts, Juvenile Justice and Rehabilitation in America" at Stanford for 10 years, will receive the 2011 Miriam Aaron Roland Volunteer Service Prize at a May awards luncheon.

The Haas Center for Public Service awards the annual prize to members of the faculty "who engage and involve students in integrating academic scholarship with significant and meaningful volunteer service to society." It was created by alumna Miriam Aaron Roland and includes a $5,000 cash award. Including Ross, 13 faculty members have received the award since 2004.

In an award citation, Ross was cited for her devotion to the "highly innovative service-learning class, Dance 197," and "for creating a social justice framework for powerful learning experiences outside the classroom, enabling students to integrate new perspectives into their research and coursework."

In a 2009 video, "Doing Time: Dance in Prison," Ross described the class – in which Stanford students teach dance to incarcerated teenagers in local juvenile halls – and its impact on students. She has taught at Stanford for more than 20 years.

The Roland Prize citation commended Ross "for providing a means for Stanford students and graduates to cultivate and apply their energy, ideas and passions to a complex set of social issues through the prison arts movement."

She also was honored "for cultivating students' appreciation that a Stanford education gives them intellectual and human skills that can and should be used outside of academia for a greater social good."

In a 2009 Stanford Magazine article, Ross, who has written about dance as a "humanizing rite" in prison, said: "I always tell my students in the very first class meeting that we're going to be talking about a subject that is hidden, yet all around us. After this class, I don't think they'll ever again see a story about a new prison going up in California or the lobbying power of the prison guards' union without pausing to think about what they learned."

The citation also praised Ross "for breaking down campus-community barriers by treating her community partners, Christa Gannon, executive director of Fresh Lifelines for Youth, and Ehud Krauss, founder and artistic director of Zohar Dance Company, as true colleagues and for recognizing that incarcerated youth and their probation officers also are teachers."

It commended Ross "for collaborating with humility, generosity, creativity, hard work and belief in each partner's strengths."

Ross, who earned a master's degree (1975) and a doctorate (1998) in education at Stanford, also was honored "for being a life-long learner, willing to be personally transformed by her own teaching and reflection process on the experiences of youth."

She is the author of Anna Halprin: Experience as Dance, San Francisco Ballet at 75 and Moving Lessons: The Beginning of Dance in American Education. Her essays on dance have been published in several anthologies, including Dignity in Motion: Dance, Human Rights and Social Justice, and Perspectives on Israeli and Jewish Dance. Ross is the current president of the Society of Dance History Scholars, an international organization, and the recipient of a 2010-2011 Fulbright Fellowship to Israel.

The Roland Prize citation also commended "her overall leadership in community-engaged scholarship as past chairperson of the Haas Center's Faculty Steering Committee, and nationwide through the Imagining America Initiative," which supports colleges and universities to animate and strengthen the public and civic purposes of humanities, arts and design through campus-community partnerships.

Finally, the citation honored Ross "for modeling a life of service that includes and integrates scholarship, social awareness and community learning."

Provost John Etchemendy will present the Roland Prize on May 10. The awards luncheon also will feature the presentation of the 2011 Community Partnership Awards by David Demarest, vice president for public affairs. This year, Project Safety Net, Peninsula Family Advocacy Program and Redwood Environmental Academy of Leadership will receive awards for partnership with Stanford.

Kathleen J. Sullivan, Stanford News Service: (650) 724-5708, kathleenjsullivan@stanford.edu