Mark Katz

Ruel W. Tyson, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Humanities; Director, UNC Institute for Arts and Humanities

Mark Katz, the Ruel W. Tyson, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Humanities and former chair of the music department, had a vision to bring non-traditional music-making to UNC-Chapel Hill. In 2011, he received an innovation grant from the UNC Institute for the Arts and Humanities to create several new courses including Beat Making Lab, which started as a way to combine hands-on music making with entrepreneurship and community engagement. Since its launch in 2011, Beat Making Lab has been delivered in countries around the world in collaboration with local partners to offer beat-making training to talented underserved youth. The project became so successful that it was made the subject of a web series by PBS Digital Studies. Expanding its reach even further, Katz was awarded more than $2.5 million from the US State Department to launch Next Level, an initiative led by UNC’s music department to create a new international exchange program that fosters cultural exchange, conflict prevention and entrepreneurship through hip-hop. Since 2014, the program has conducted workshops in 11 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and Central America. His work in promoting the arts and music education in underserved communities has been recognized through awards from the Freedoms Foundation, the Hip-Hop Education Center and Indy Weekly. In 2016, Katz was awarded Royal Musical Association’s Dent Medal, which credited him with taking “musicology and hip-hop studies in bold new directions, creating a model of exemplary and ethical scholarship that internationalizes the discipline in productive ways.”