Dr. Donta' McGilvery is the first Black male to graduate with a PhD in Theatre from Arizona State University. A scholar-practitioner, ordained pastor, and community activist, Dr. McGilvery's research and practice is primarily located at the intersection of higher education, the local community, and the Black church. His research utilizes both theatrical and theological approaches as a means to help leaders, institutions, and communities better understand the importance of equitably centering the most vulnerable populations.
Not only does his scholarship present theoretical approaches to centering people on the margins, a practitioner, Dr. McGilvery illustrates how to do it. Central to his philosophy is the belief that theatre and performance can be observed as a part of everyday life. Whether he’s teaching students in a theatre class, serving food to the unhoused, or working in an administrative role, he employs theatre as a vehicle for transformation. To that end, he currently serves as the Coordinator for Graduate Student Experience within the Graduate Colleges’ Professional Development and Engagement team. In this position, Dr. McGilvery onboards new and incoming ASU graduate students by designing graduate student orientations, establishing space for graduate students to learn about career diversity opportunities inside and outside academia, designing and teaching the New Scholars Colloquium course to Presidential Scholars and Graduate College Enrichment Fellows, and he helps create various workshops training opportunities and programs that introduce graduates to the many resources available to them at ASU.
Prior to joining the Graduate College, Dr. McGilvery served as the Dean's Fellow and Coordinator for the Culture and Access Department in Herberger Institute for the Design and the Arts (HIDA). In his role as Dean's Fellow and Coordinator, he helped establish the College's first Culture and Access Department. While there, he created HIDA's "Shifting the Gaze'' journal which highlighted stories from staff, faculty, and students within minoritized populations. Additionally, as Dean’s Fellow he oversaw student advocacy groups in HIDA and served alongside a team of HIDA's faculty and staff as a member of the CORE team--a team responsible for planning and creating ways to increase access and recognized cultural perspectives within the College.
Dr. McGilvery's areas of research include:
Developing equity coalitions that centers Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) at Predominantly White Institutions
Decentering whiteness in theatre education
Representation and liberation of BIPOC students in institutions of higher education
Black theatre and the Black church
Theatre and Theological approaches to activism
Theatre as a tool for activism
The performativity of the American Civil Rights Movement
With 23 years of experience as a playwright/theatre educator and 16 years as an ordained minister, Dr. McGilvery has developed and taught unique theatre courses within communities, seminaries, universities, K-12 schools, and churches.
Dr. McGilvery is the co-founder and co-artistic director of Sleeveless Acts, a Phoenix-based theatre company that joins communities to co-create theatre with radical imagination.
Ph.D. Theatre, Arizona State University (first Black make to earn the PhD in Theatre)
Doctor of Ministry--Urban Ministry, Aspen Christian College & Seminary
Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies, Humanities/Social Justice, Southern Methodist University
Bachelors of Arts in Sociology, University of North Texas