Estela Mara Bensimon is Dean’s Professor in Educational Equity at the USC Rossier School of Education and the Founding Director of the Center for Urban Education (CUE). CUE has worked with thousands of college professionals—from presidents to faculty to academic counselors, helping them take steps in their daily work to reverse the impact of the historical and structural inequities that prevent many minoritized students from excelling in higher education. CUE develops tools and processes that empower professionals as “researchers” into their own practices, with the ultimate goal of not just marginal changes in policy or practice, but shifts towards cultures of inclusion and broad ownership over racial equity.
Professor Bensimon’s critical action research agenda has been supported by grants from the Ford Foundation, Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation, Lumina Foundation, Teagle Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and The James Irvine Foundation. Dr. Bensimon has published extensively about racial equity, organizational learning, practitioner inquiry and change; and her articles have appeared in journals such as the Review of Higher Education, Journal of Higher Education, Liberal Education, and Harvard Educational Review.
Her most recent books include: From Equity Talk to Equity Walk (with Tia Brown McNair and Lindsey Malcom-Piqueux) Critical Approaches to the Study of Higher Education (co-edited with Ana Martinez-Aleman and Brian Pusser) which was selected as the 2016 Outstanding Publication by the American Education Research Association, Division of Postsecondary Education; Engaging the Race Question: Accountability and Equity in US Higher Education (with Alicia C. Dowd), Confronting Equity Issues on Campus: Implementing the Equity Scorecard in Theory and Practice (co-edited with Lindsey Malcom).
Dr. Bensimon has held the highest leadership positions in the Association for the Study of Higher Education (President, 2005-2006) and in the American Education Research Association, Division on Postsecondary Education (Vice-President, 1992-1994). She has served on the boards of the American Association for Higher Education and the Association of American Colleges and Universities. She was the Chair of AERA’s Social Justice and Action Committee. In 2007, Dr. Bensimon was presented with a Distinguished Service Award in recognition of exceptional commitment to the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) and in 2018 she received its Leadership Award. The University of Wisconsin system recognized Dr. Bensimon with the Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award in 2010. In 2011, she was inducted as an AERA Fellow in recognition of excellence in research and received ASHE’s Council on Ethnic Participation Founders Service Award. In 2013, she received the Association for the Study of Higher Education Research Achievement Award. She is a recipient of the USC Mellon Mentoring Award for faculty. In 2015, she received the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) Outstanding Latina Faculty Award for Research & Teaching, and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Montclair State University’s College of Education and Human Services.
In 2017, she was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Education and she was presented with the 2017 Social Justice in Education Award by the American Education Research Association. Her opinion pieces have been published in Inside HigherEd, Denver Post, Sacramento Bee, and Zocalo. In January 2018, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Dr. Bensimon to the Education Commission of the States. She is the 2018 AERA Division J Research Award recipient. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Campaign for College Opportunity and Complete College America.
Dr. Bensimon was associate dean of the USC Rossier School of Education from 1996-2000 and was a Fulbright Scholar to Mexico in 2002. She earned her doctorate in higher education from Teachers College, Columbia University.