The Inevitability of Racial Bias and Exclusion

Many people may not know that my research career began because of the mentorship of Dr. Sylvia Hurtado at the University of Michigan. I was paired with Dr. Hurtado via the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program. I remember interviewing for her research team, and she told me I could join as long as I didn’t fall asleep in the research team meetings because her prior undergraduate researcher would take naps. I felt like I could leap over that bar! I discuss more background in a recent piece on the University of Michigan College of Education Centennial celebration website in the piece Growing the Education Profession by Telling the Right Story.

It was amazing to be mentored by Sylvia when she was tenure-track Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan. It was one of the biggest honors of my life to be asked by her to be asked to write a student letter for her tenure file. I truly didn’t understand at that time how important it was, but I surely do now. I sent her an email back on August 18 (as I do every five years or so) and simply said “Sylvia, Another note to say how incredibly thankful I am for your mentorship in UROP and beyond! Without you I wouldn’t be here today. I wouldn’t have been able to pay it forward without you taking an interest in that precocious 19-year-old.”

She is now at UCLA and is giving a prestigious AERA lecture. I signed up and hope you can tune in! From AERA:

Sylvia Hurtado, a longstanding AERA Fellow and a professor at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), will give the 2021 AERA Distinguished Lecture on September 30, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. EDT. The lecture, rescheduled from the Virtual Annual Meeting in April, is entitled “The Inevitability of Racial Bias and Exclusion: Implications for Identity-Based Education and Practice.” The lecture will include a welcome from AERA President Na’ilah Suad Nasir and an introduction from AERA Past President Shaun R. Harper. It will be followed by an open discussion with Q&A from virtual attendees.

Attendees can register for this event here.  

Dr. Hurtado elaborates on the lecture’s theme in a brief abstract:

Racial/ethnic identity groups have endured racial profiling, are targets of hate crimes, and are often viewed not as individuals but as a faceless mass on a daily basis—even in classrooms. Dr. Hurtado personalizes “facelessness” using research on campus racial climates and Latinx experiences, articulating how our tendencies for recognition bias are perpetuated and reinforced at the individual and institutional levels in education. She articulates the need for identity-based education, re-humanizing practices, and increased specificity to target racial equity aims in higher education.

“The education research and related research, policy, and practice communities eagerly await Dr. Hurtado’s lecture next month,” said Executive Director Felice Levine. “We are pleased to have such a preeminent scholar focusing on such a timely and significant topic. We anticipate a very large turnout for this important lecture.”

Dr. Hurtado is a professor in the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies and its division of Higher Education and Organizational Change. She grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and as a first-generation Latina college student, she pursued sociology of education. Influenced by these experiences, her scholarship focuses on student educational outcomes, campus racial climates, and equity and inclusion in higher education. She served as director of the Higher Education Research Institute (UCLA) for over a decade and is past-president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education. She served on the Board on Higher Education and Workforce of the National Research Council and was on study panels that produced several National Academy Press reports on STEM, student success, and mentoring. In addition to being inducted as an AERA Fellow in 2011, she was elected to the National Academy of Education and to AERA Council in 2019. Dr. Hurtado has led several national research projects, including NIH-sponsored projects on the longitudinal assessment of students aspiring to STEM careers, and institutional strategies to broaden participation in STEM. Her current research includes case studies of departments that implement culturally aware mentoring among faculty (NIH U01) with the University of Wisconsin; university organizational change after the replication of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; and another Spencer-funded project on organizing for student success at Hispanic-serving institutions. Dr. Hurtado is an alumna of UCLA (Ph.D.), Harvard Graduate School of Education (M.Ed.), and Princeton University (A.B.).

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