Jessica "Decky" Alexander

Jessica ‘Decky’ Alexander is a professor of applied theatre and the Director of Academic Engagement Programs under Engage @ EMU. Decky has spent the past 20 plus years since graduate school in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Area. Both as both a performer and as a faculty member, Decky has used the medium of performance to give voice to underheard voices and communities.

Jessica ‘Decky’ Alexander’s current creative and scholarly endeavors include: the use of the theatre for faculty development; community performance; community art and activism, and community based learning including academic service-learning. She currently serves as EMU’s Director of Academic Engagement Programs under the Engage @ EMU, whose mission is to cultivate and foster community and university collaboration with business and community.

For eight years she directed EMU’s Office of Academic Service-Learning, which houses The B. Side (Business Side) of Youth, Digital Inclusion, The College Coaching Corps and CrossTown Theatre Troupe, a program supporting youth voice through theatre. In 1997, Alexander founded EMU’s CloseUP Theatre Troupe, which performed annually for 8000 plus audience members at multiple universities and colleges, and has been home to over 150 student actor/educators. In 2008, Alexander in collaboration with the Faculty Development Center founded C2 (CloseUP Classroom) a performing ensemble of faculty and students who create theatre for faculty on issues related to teaching and learning.

Selected Presentations and Publications


  • The College Completion Coach: A Cross-County Collaborative Retention and Persistence Project, Great Lakes Regional Student Success Conference, Detroit Renaissance Center, February 2017
  • Performing Faculty Stories: how to craft and use story as a teaching and learning tool. Scholarship on Teaching and Learning (SOTL), University of Ohio at Findlay, May 2015
  • The College Coaching Corps: Building College Advising Capacity in Local High Schools MCAN Conference, Lansing, MI April, 2015
  • Disrupting a Disruption or Live Everything, book chapter in Community Engagement 2.0 Dialogues on the Future of the Civic in the Disrupted University. Palgrave MacMillian: NY 2014
  • Town Hall Nation A National Act of Civic Imagination co-presented with renowned educators and artists’ Bob Leonard and Michael Rohd - Imagining America Conference, New York, October 2012

Selected Performances and Specialized Workshops


  • Comfort in the Uncomfortable: Using Improv as a Tool in Mental Health Work, University of Michigan Depression Center, March 2017
  • Gimme Shelter, narrative performance of residents and workers at Alpha House, Ann Arbor, September 2014
  • Telling Tales Out of School, Student Advocacy Center, Ann Arbor Time/Out, School of Choice and Warning: Tornado, Flight or Fight, Ann Arbor, June 2013, April 2014, 2015 and 2016

Awards and Recognitions


  • 2007 ACLU Washtenaw County- Civil Liberties Champion Award
  • 2005 Institutional Values Award for Diversity, Multicultural and Human Dignity
  • 2002 Division of Enrollment Services Faculty Award and the Gold Medallion Outstanding Faculty Award, 1998
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