Rossier News

Celebrating faculty advancements

Five faculty were recently promoted at the USC Rossier School of Education.

By Kianoosh Hashemzadeh Published on

USC Rossier is pleased to announce several recent faculty promotions: Nasser Cortez, associate professor of clinical education; Monique Datta, teaching professor of education; Akilah Lyons-Moore, associate professor of clinical education; Morgan Polikoff, professor of education; and Julie Posselt, professor of education.

“Seeing our esteemed faculty reach these important career milestones is one of the best parts of my job. Our faculty are excellent teachers and they have been making valuable contributions to the field of education for many years. We here at USC Rossier applaud their passion, commitment and dedication,” said USC Rossier Dean Pedro A. Noguera.

Learn more about each of the promoted faculty:

Nasser Cortez has been promoted from assistant professor of education to associate professor of education. A lifelong educator, Cortez has dedicated his career to teaching neurodiverse students. Before joining USC Rossier in 2019, he was an education and inclusion specialist for K–12 students with disabilities for over a decade in Central and Southern California. In addition, he previously worked as a teacher induction mentor with the Orange County Department of Education and served as an instructor for teacher induction at Antioch University Los Angeles. He currently teaches in USC Rossier’s Master of Arts in Teaching program, with an emphasis on preparing future teachers to better serve students with learning differences. Reflecting on his time at the school, Cortez said, “Working at USC Rossier has afforded me the opportunity to work alongside some of the most brilliant minds in the field. It has been a blessing and a privilege to learn from my colleagues and my students. I look forward to continuing the pursuit of educational equity for all students at USC Rossier.” Cortez is also the USC Rossier MAT teacher residency lead and has collaborated with the Los Angeles Unified School District and Ednovate charter schools to increase teacher resident presence in local schools.

Monique Claire Datta has been promoted to teaching professor of education. Datta joined USC Rossier in 2013 and currently teaches in the Master of Arts in Teaching, the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and the Doctor of Education in Organizational Change and Leadership programs. She is also a USC Center for the Excellence of Teaching Faculty Fellow. Before joining the USC Rossier faculty, she worked for the Hawai‘i State Department of Education as the state office resource teacher for English language arts and as a classroom teacher in Hawai‘i, California and South Carolina. Her research interests include learning and curriculum development, academic literacy, and leadership and organizational change. She also co-founded MapXGuild, a woman-owned organization that focuses on human equity and sustainability. “Teaching at USC Rossier has been a vortex of amazing experiences and discoveries that have impacted my teaching pedagogy,” Datta said. “I feel so honored to have received this promotion.”

Now associate professor of education, Akilah Lyons-Moore has over 20 years of experience in the field of education. She worked as a teacher and a principal in public schools in Los Angeles County prior to joining USC Rossier’s faculty in 2018. Lyons-Moore currently teaches in USC Rossier’s Master of Arts in Teaching and Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership programs. A passionate advocate for historically underserved students and students of color, she is also especially interested in the experience and retention of Black teachers. Reflecting on her experiences as a faculty member, Lyons-Moore explained: 

“To understand my purpose at USC Rossier is to acknowledge and understand where I am from. I am four generations removed from my family who were enslaved Black Americans and three generations removed from my grandparents who continued to work as sharecroppers on the land where my family was enslaved. I grew up hearing their stories of working the land, living in segregated communities, moving to Los Angeles after enlisting in the military, and their everyday experiences living in Pacoima, which would later become my childhood community. I am from the yellow school buses where I traveled to ‘better’ schools in all-White communities, Rodney King and the 1992 L.A. riots, gangs, the Black church and hip-hop. I am from these experiences, collective histories and skills that seemed invisible outside of my community, including the schools I attended. As an educator of teachers and instructional leader here at USC Rossier, my work is grounded in understanding how race, culture and identity mediate teaching and learning, how to bridge learning theory and instructional practice in TK–12 schools, and applying the tenets of authentic teacher care. I am grateful for my experiences and humbled by this recognition of my work.”

Previously associate professor of education, Morgan Polikoff is now professor of education. His areas of expertise include K–12 education policy; curriculum, standards, accountability, and assessment policy; survey research methods; and the impact of COVID-19 on American families' educational experiences. He’s been awarded over $16 million in grant funding, most recently a $173,125 grant from the USC Schaeffer Peterson Foundation Pandemic Response Policy Research Fund for a project studying the long-term effects of COVID-19 on children’s well-being. Polikoff has published more than 55 journal articles and published his first book, Beyond Standards: The Fragmentation of Education Governance and the Promise of Curriculum Reform in 2021. “I’m proud to have spent my entire academic career at USC Rossier and am honored to have received this promotion,” Polikoff said. “I’m looking forward to the next stage of my career, including broadening my reach and impact through the EdPolicy Hub.” Polikoff is a faculty co-director of USC Rossier’s EdPolicy Hub and teaches in USC Rossier’s PhD in Education and Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership programs. He has been with USC Rossier since 2010

Julie Posselt, previously associate professor of education, is now professor of education. “USC Rossier’s equity mission, excellent students, and commitment to linking research, policy, and practice have been a strong foundation for my work,” said Poseelt. “ I’m proud to be counted among its excellent full professors and excited about our collective work in the years to come.” Her research focuses on admissions at the graduate and undergraduate levels, equity and inclusion in STEM, and culture and wellbeing in higher education. A faculty affiliate with the Pullias Center for Higher Education, she founded and directs the Equity in Graduate Education Consortium. She has received more than $20 million in grants and contracts. In 2023, was awarded a $1.2 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to expand the consortium as well as a $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation for a mixed methods study of admissions rubrics. She is the author of numerous research articles and has written two books, Equity in Science: Representation, Culture, and the Dynamics of Change in Graduate Education and Inside Graduate Admissions: Merit, Diversity, and Faculty Gatekeeping. Posselt was recently named the new executive director of the USC Center for Enrollment Research, Policy and Practice. She is also Associate Dean in the USC Graduate School and president of the Sociology of Education Association. Posselt teaches in USC Rossier’s PhD in Education, Masters in Enrollment Management, and Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership programs and has been with the school since 2016.

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