2021 Academic Affairs Winter Meeting: Speakers

Estela Mara Bensimon

Estela Mara Bensimon 200x200Estela Mara Bensimon is university professor emerita and founding director of the Center for Urban Education at the University of Southern California. To increase racial equity in higher education outcomes for students of color, she developed the Equity Scorecard, a process for using inquiry to drive changes in institutional practice and culture. Bensimon has also published extensively about racial equity, organizational learning, practitioner inquiry, and change. As a result of her efforts, she was elected to the National Academy of Education and appointed to the Education Commission of the States. In 2020 she was honored with Association for the Study of Higher Education’s Howard Bowen Distinguished Career Award and the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize for innovation in higher education. Her most recent book is From Equity Talk to Equity Walk: Expanding Practitioner Knowledge for Racial Justice in Higher Education, co-authored with Tia Brown McNair and Lindsey Malcom-Piqueux. She also serves on the boards of the Campaign for College Opportunity and Complete College America. Bensimon earned her doctorate in higher education from Teachers College, Columbia University (N.Y.).

Jaye Fenderson

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With a heart for education and a love of storytelling, Jaye Fenderson's career has taken her from New York to Los Angeles producing film and television, working in college admissions, and always writing in between.

As a former senior admissions officer at Columbia University (N.Y.), Fenderson found a passion for increasing college access for low-income students. Her latest project is the documentary film First Generation, which follows the story of four low-income students striving to be first in their families to go to college. Fenderson is the author of Seventeen’s Guide to Getting Into College and the co-creator and producer of ABC’s The Scholar, an unscripted television drama that gave 10 high school seniors the chance to compete for a full ride college scholarship.

From 2005–2010, Fenderson was the college advice columnist for Seventeen.com and has published numerous articles on college admission for Seventeen, Good Housekeeping, and The College Access & Opportunity Guide. Fenderson graduated from Columbia University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and French and currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband Adam, where she spends her free time chasing after their little boy.

Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

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Eddie S. Glaude Jr. is an intellectual who speaks to the complex dynamics of the American experience. His most well-known books, Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul, and In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America, take a wide look at Black communities, the difficulties of race in the United States, and the challenges our democracy faces. 

He is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of African American Studies, a program he first became involved with shaping as a doctoral candidate in Religion at Princeton (N.J.). He is the former president of the American Academy of Religion. His books on religion and philosophy include An Uncommon Faith: A Pragmatic Approach to the Study of African American Religion, African American Religion: A Very Short Introduction, and Exodus! Religion, Race and Nation in Early 19th Century Black America, which was awarded the Modern Language Association’s William Sanders Scarborough Book Prize. Glaude is also the author of two edited volumes, and many influential articles about religion for academic journals. He has also written for the likes of The New York Times and Time Magazine.

Erica L. Green

Erica L Green 200x200Erica L. Green is a correspondent in the Washington Bureau of The New York Times covering federal education policy, with a focus on the Education Department and civil rights enforcement in the nation’s schools. 

Erica joined The Times in March 2017 from The Baltimore Sun, where she covered the Baltimore City Public School System for seven years. In that role, she covered the district's day-to-day news, and produced award-winning investigations on topics such as school funding, special education, school discipline, the juvenile justice system, and school segregation. At The Sun, Erica was named a finalist for the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists, first place in the investigative reporting category from the Education Writer’s Association and was part of the Sun team named a 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist for breaking news coverage of the death of Freddie Gray and the unrest that followed. 

At The Times, Erica has covered the tenure of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and the impact that the Trump administration’s policies have had on both K-12 schools and institutions of higher education. Her coverage earned her a 2018 beat reporting prize from the Education Writers Association.

Jorge Klor de Alva

Jorge Klor de Alva 200x200Jorge Klor de Alva is president of Nexus Research and Policy Center, a nonprofit research and policy advocacy organization focused on the improvement of colleges enrolling underserved students. He is also chairman of the board of the University of Advanced Technologies, educating Latinos in STEM-related areas. He has served as a professor and administrator in the public as well as private and proprietary sectors of higher education, having held tenured appointments at San Jose State University (Calif.); University at Albany, State University of New York; University of California, Berkeley (where he held an endowed chair as The Class of 1940 Professor); Princeton University (N.J.); and the University of Phoenix (where he served as president). 

He has been a Fulbright Scholar, John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, a Harry Frank Guggenheim, National Endowment for the Humanities and National Science Foundation grantee, and a Getty Scholar, Getty Research Center. He has published over 120 scholarly articles; is co-author of nine social studies textbooks; and is author, co-author, or editor of another 15 books on education and the social sciences. He earned a B.A. and J.D. at UC-Berkeley and a Ph.D. at UC-Santa Cruz.

Tia Brown McNair

Tia Brown McNair Tia Brown McNair is the vice president in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success and Executive Director for the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in Washington, D.C. She oversees both funded projects and AAC&U’s continuing programs on equity, inclusive excellence, high-impact practices, and student success. McNair directs AAC&U’s Summer Institutes on High-Impact Practices and Student Success and TRHT Campus Centers and serves as the project director for several AAC&U initiatives. She is the lead author of From Equity Talk to Equity Walk: Expanding Practitioner Knowledge for Racial Justice in Higher Education (January 2020) and Becoming a Student-Ready College: A New Culture of Leadership for Student Success (July 2016). In March 2020, Diverse: Issues In Higher Education named McNair one of 35 outstanding women who have tackled some of higher education’s toughest challenges and made a positive difference in their communities.

Ruth J. Simmons

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Ruth J. Simmons serves as president of Prairie View A&M University (Texas). She was president of Brown University (R.I.) from 2001–2012. Under her leadership, Brown made significant strides in improving its standing as one of the world’s finest research universities.

A French professor before entering university administration, President Simmons held an appointment as a professor of Comparative Literature and Africana Studies at Brown. After completing her Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard (Mass.), she served in various faculty and administrative roles at the University of Southern California, Princeton University (N.J.), and Spelman College (Ga.) before becoming president of Smith College (Mass.), the largest women’s college in the United States. At Smith, she launched a number of important academic initiatives, including an engineering program, the first at an American women’s college.

Simmons is the recipient of many honors, including a Fulbright Fellowship to France, the 2001 President’s Award from the United Negro College Fund, the 2002 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, the 2004 Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal, the Foreign Policy Association Medal, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and the Centennial Medal from Harvard University. Awarded numerous honorary degrees, she received the Brown Faculty’s highest honor: the Susan Colver Rosenberger Medal in 2011.

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