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Denisa Gándara

Blurred image of the arch used as background for stylistic purposes.
PhD, 2016

Denisa Gándara is assistant professor of higher education at the University of Texas at Austin. She had been at Southern Methodist University in Dallas prior to the move.

Gándara was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas. She earned her bachelor’s degrees (in Philosophy and Spanish) from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was selected as one of 12 Dean’s Distinguished Graduates in the College of Liberal Arts. Prior to pursuing graduate studies, she served as coordinator for the UT Chapter of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, worked for college readiness programs, and interned in the office of a U.S. Congressman and in the Texas Senate Higher Education Committee.

Currently, her research agenda explores state-level higher education policy formulation processes and impacts, especially on populations traditionally underserved in higher education. Her current work on the development of higher education finance policies focuses on: (1) social networks within policy development processes and what they suggest about (under)representation in higher education policymaking and (2) the types, quality, sources, and flows of information acquired and used in policy formulation.

Gándara was awarded the the Zell and Shirley Miller Graduate Fellowship. She also received two prestigious honors while writing her dissertation. She was one of 33 students nationally awarded a 2015 Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, and she was also one of nine students receiving support from a minority dissertation fellowship program of the American Educational Research Association.

The Ford Foundation fellowships are 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.

News Featuring Denisa Gándara

Denisa Gándara (PhD 2016) joined the University of Texas as an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy.

Dr. Denisa Gándara (IHE PhD) has been selected for the William T. Grant Scholar class of 2026. The Scholars Program supports the development of early-career researchers whose work can inform future policy development for US higher education institutions.

Denisa Gándara (PhD 2016) and co-author Amy Li investigate Promise programs in an paper published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis.

Chronicle of Higher Education

Power of the Professoriate

Denisa Gándara (PhD 2016) and Sosanya Jones investigate how policymakers use discursive strategies in advocating higher education policy in "Who Deserves Benefits in Higher Education?: A Policy Discourse Analysis of a Process Surrounding Reauthorization of…

Denisa Gándara (PhD 2016) and Meredith Billings (Postdoc, 2017-2019) present Causal Inference for Policy Analysis in Higher Education on Friday, October 30 from 12:00-1:30 eastern.

Denisa Gándara (PhD 2016) was quoted in two articles at the end of July on tuition in the pandemic: one in the Washington Post and another in Education Dive.  

Denisa Gandara (PhD 2016) and Amanda Rutherford find evidence that performance-based funding models lead to fewer first-generation enrollments.

Their investigation of public 4-year institutions between 2001-2014 appears in Educational…

Denisa Gándara (PhD 2016) and Erik Ness have a research article in the Journal of Higher Education, "Ideological Think Tanks and the Politics of College Affordability in the States." Gándara…

Denisa Gándara (PhD 2016) and Dennis Kramer (PhD 2014) have been elected to serve as members-at-large on the executive committee of the ASHE Council for Public Policy in Higher Education. Denisa is an assistant professor of higher education at Southern…

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