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Bigger than ever, Scholars of Color lecture series hits year five

The 2020-21 series brings in 10 experts from all concentrations

By Ross Brenneman

Art by Heather Monahan/Cheeky Design

USC Rossier has announced the visiting scholars for its fifth annual Scholars of Color Lecture Series.

For the 2020-21 school year, the series will bring 10 researchers—the most ever—to present to students, faculty and staff, in an online format. This year’s scholars include experts on activism, human development, power structures and many other topics.



Dominique Baker
Assistant Professor of Education Policy
Southern Methodist University
Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, 12-1 p.m.

Baker’s research focuses on the way that education policy affects and shapes the access and success of minoritized students in higher education. She primarily investigates student financial aid, affirmative action and admissions policies, and policies that influence the ability to create an inclusive and equitable campus climate.



Casey Wong
Postdoctoral Scholar, UCLA
Visiting Scholar at USC Rossier
Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, 12-1 p.m.

Wong’s research focuses upon social justice in educational practice, theory, and policy. He is a public intellectual, community organizer, and educator who speaks on issues of collective liberation and transformative justice, abolishing youth prisons, hip hop and arts activism, and the power and possibilities of love as a pedagogy and politics for social justice.



Oscar Jiménez-Castellanos
Murchison Endowed Professor of Education, Trinity University
Visiting Scholar at USC Rossier
Oct. 20, 2020, 12-1 p.m.

Jiménez-Castellanos serves as Executive Director of the Center for Educational Leadership. Previously, Jiménez-Castellanos was associate professor and founding director of the Latinx education research center at Santa Clara University. He also served as a visiting scholar in 2016-17 at University of California, Berkeley and affiliated with the Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) at Stanford University.



Abena Mackall
Assistant Professor
The University of Texas at Austin
Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, 12-1 p.m.

Mackall’s interdisciplinary research draws on scholarship in human development, education and sociology to explore the mechanisms underlying correlated forms of social disadvantage. Motivated by her experiences as a former middle school special education teacher and instructor in prisons, Mackall’s research aims to provide insights into practices and policies that will enable public institutions to more effectively support individuals in contact with the juvenile and criminal justice systems.



Felecia Commodore
Assistant Professor
Old Dominion University
Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, 12-1 p.m.

Commodore has a background working as an admissions counselor and academic advisor at Trinity University and University of Maryland, College Park respectively. Commodore is currently working as an independent higher education consultant. Her research focus area is leadership, governance and administrative practices with a particular focus on HBCUs and MSIs. Commodore’s research interests also lie in how leadership is exercised, constructed and viewed in various communities, and the relationship of Black women and leadership.



Chezare Warren
Associate Professor
Michigan State University
Thursday, Jan 28, 2021, 12-1 p.m.

Warren has over a decade of professional experience as a public school educator, and was founding math teacher of the Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men in Chicago, Ill. A prolific scholar, his work has garnered numerous accolades including his selection as one of two education researchers in the U.S. to receive a 2019 Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship.



Rita Kohli
Assistant Professor
University of California, Riverside
Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, 12-1 p.m.

Kohli has spent 20 years in urban public schools across the country as an Oakland Unified School District teacher, teacher educator and educational researcher. Her research interests include critical race theory, the racial climate of teacher education and schools, critical teacher development and the struggles, assets and possibilities of teachers of color across the pipeline. Kohli is the co-editor of the book Confronting Racism in Teacher Education: Narratives From Teacher Educators.



DeMarcus Jenkins
Assistant Professor
University of Arizona
Tuesday, March 9, 2021, 12-1 p.m.

Jenkins’ scholarly research interests draw from his previous experiences as an urban school educator and state-level policy analyst. Jenkins’ research is focused on the relationship between urban spatial transformation, particularly of neighborhoods and cities, and school reform. Broadly conceived, his research interrogates the dynamic power structures that organize contemporary geographies of education and educational arrangements, including racism, sexism and racialized capitalism.



Chauncey Smith
Assistant Professor
University of Virginia
Thursday, April 1, 2021, 12-1 p.m.

Smith’s research is centered on Black adolescents’ sociopolitical development in school and after-school program contexts. His work examines the ways in which Black adolescents recognize, analyze and respond to oppression (e.g., racism, sexism, classism) in their environment. Additionally, his work employs an intersectional approach to explore Black adolescent school experiences across racial, class and gender identities.



Tracy Buenavista
Associate Professor
California State University Northridge
Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 12-1 p.m.

Buenavista serves as the co-principal investigator for the CSUN DREAM Center. Buenavista teaches courses on race and racism, immigration and research methods. In her research she uses critical race theory to examine how education, immigration and militarization shape the contemporary experiences of Pilipinxs in the United States.


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