Ashley Lucas

Ashley Lucas

2015 Winner
Regents’ Award for Distinguished Public Service
School of Theatre, Music & Dance


Actor, writer and social entrepreneur Ashley Lucas is renowned for her groundbreaking scholarship on incarceration and her public service. As director of the U-M Prison Creative Arts Project, Lucas and her students help transform the lives of current and former prisoners, juveniles in detention, and their families through creative programs and services. The project coordinates arts workshops in prisons, trains students and volunteers to lead them, and curates an annual prison art show.

With the support of a LSA Teaching Transformed Grant, Lucas launched the Atonement Project, an arts-based restorative justice program. She also developed a student exchange program with Brazil’s federal university UNIRIO. She speaks about the project at academic conferences and prisons, universities, houses of worship, libraries and events such as Legislative Day in Lansing and U-M’s Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium.

Lucas performs her one-woman play, “Doin’ Time: Through the Visiting Glass” (2004) in the United States and abroad. It is based on letters, interviews and personal experience as the child of an incarcerated parent. She co-edited “Razor Wire Women” (2011), a collection of essays, and runs the Razor Wire Women blog.

Lucas has served on several dissertation committees and advises undergraduates working on their theses and through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program. Her awards include an MCubed grant to digitally archive more than 5,000 images of art displayed over a 20-year period at the Annual Exhibition of Art by Michigan Prisoners.

Lucas coordinated the Residential College’s Committee on Engaged Learning and served on the Provost’s Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She is past president of the Women and Theatre Program of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. Lucas serves on the advisory board of Open Hearts, Open Minds, which provides arts programming for incarcerated adults in Oregon.