Doctoral candidate receives two honors

Denisa Gándara fellowship-h
Denisa Gándara

Awards to support her work to enhance diversity in higher education

Athens, Ga. – Denisa Gándara, a doctoral candidate in the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Georgia, has recently received two prestigious honors. She is one of 33 students nationally awarded a 2015 Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, and she is also one of nine students receiving support from a minority dissertation fellowship program of the American Educational Research Association.

The Ford Foundation fellowship provides one year of support to individuals working toward completing their dissertations. The fellowships are awarded through a national competition administered by the National Research Council of the National Academies on behalf of the Ford Foundation. The award is given to individuals who have demonstrated superior academic achievement, are committed to a career in teaching and research at the college or university level, show promise of future achievement as scholars and teachers, and are well prepared to use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.

The AERA award provides funding for travel expenses to attend the 2016 AERA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., where recipients will present their research in an invited dissertation poster session, along with awardees from other prestigious fellowship programs. Members of the AERA Minority Fellowship Selection Committee will meet with the new awardees at a mentoring and career development workshop held during the annual meeting.

“These are very selective and prestigious awards,” said Erik Ness, Gándara’s major professor. “She has clearly distinguished herself as a promising and engaged higher education scholar.”

Gándara’s dissertation title is “A Seat at the Table: How Performance Funding Policies for Higher Education Are Designed.”

“I look forward to using these awards to advance my research on representation and under-representation of various stakeholders in the process of designing performance funding policies at the state level,” said Gándara. “I hope to help foster and enhance diversity in higher education through my teaching and scholarship.”

A native Texan, Gándara earned bachelor’s degrees in both philosophy and Spanish at the University of Texas at Austin, then participated in the McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program. She has worked for college readiness programs such as Gear Up and Upward Bound and experienced policymaking both at the federal level (through an internship with Rep. Roland Gutierrez of Texas in Washington, D.C.) and at the state level (working with the Texas Senate Higher Education Committee).

At UGA, she has been the recipient of the Zell and Shirley Miller Graduate Fellowship offered by the Institute of Higher Education.

The Institute of Higher Education is an academic unit of the University of Georgia committed to advancing higher education policy, management and leadership through research, graduate education and outreach. The institute’s mission encompasses higher education issues at the campus, state, national and international levels.