Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dr. Stella Flores: Harvard-educated, quoted-in-Economist Vanderbilt professor

A reader alerted me to a mention of Vanderbilt professor Stella Flores in an Economist article about a higher education gap in achievement "between Hispanic and 'Anglo' students" and how to close that gap. In the article, Flores is cited for the proposition that
the best thing that can be done at the state level is to adopt policies that allow all of a state’s high-school students to pay fees at its public universities at the discounted rate that normally applies to people from that state, regardless of their legal status.
(It would have been my preference that the Economist clarify that not all Hispanic students have legal status problems or are even immigrants - (almost half of all Hispanic residents of Tennessee are U.S.-born, and half of those who were born abroad have legal status) - but maybe the sophisticated readers of that British publication already knew that.)

Dr. Flores tells the Hispanic Nashville Notebook that when in-state tuition is offered to high school students regardless of legal status,
they are more likely to take advantage of such a benefit and enroll in college as compared to similar students who live in states without an in-state resident tuition policy. The overall numbers of students are not massive. However, if the benefit is available, over time, students do go to college as a result of having such a policy in a state.
Flores' latest article on the subject will appear in The Review of Higher Education.

About Dr. Stella Flores

Flores got doctoral and masters degrees from Harvard University, her doctorate being in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy with a concentration in Higher Education. She has another masters in public affairs from U.T. (Texas, not Tennessee), and her bachelors is from Rice, where she spent one semester at the Universidad de Chile in Santiago.

Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Flores served as a program evaluator for the U.S. General Accountability Office and as a program specialist for the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Professor Flores has also served as a policy researcher for the Texas State Legislature and various city governments in Texas.

Professor Flores’ work employs large-scale databases and quantitative methods to investigate the impact of state and federal policies on college access and completion for low-income and underrepresented populations. She has written on the role of alternative admissions plans and financial aid programs in college admissions, demographic changes in higher education, the role of the Hispanic Serving Institution in U.S. higher education policy, and Latino students and community colleges.

The lawyers who read my blog will be particularly interested the citation of her work in the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision Gratz v. Bollinger (dissenting opinion) and in various amicus briefs in the Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger Supreme Court cases on affirmative action in higher education admissions. (Flores and another researcher concluded that "it is incorrect to attribute any significant increase in campus diversity to a percent plan alone." Percent Plans in College Admissions: A Comparative Analysis of Three States’ Experiences (2003)).

Her publications also include two edited volumes, Legacies of Brown: Multiracial Equity in American Education published by the Harvard Educational Review (with Dorinda J. Carter and Richard J. Reddick) and Latino Educational Opportunity published by Jossey-Bass as part of the New Directions for Community College series (with Catherine L. Horn and Gary Orfield).

Professor Flores currently teaches courses in college access policy and general education policy. Her recent work includes an examination of the effect of in-state resident tuition policies on the college enrollment and persistence of undocumented students across the United States, an analysis of institutional response to federal and state changes in race-conscious admissions policies and programs, and an investigation of the interaction of state and institutional financial aid policies targeted at low-income students also across the United States.

Dr. Flores was recently named a co-investigator in a $1.9 million grant from the Gates Foundation on barriers to college completion, and she was also a research expert for Governor Bredesen’s Task Force on Readiness, Acceleration, Models, and Paths (RAMP UP).

Dr. Flores is at the Peabody School of Education at Vanderbilt University. According to Vanderbilt, Peabody is the top-ranked school of education in the nation as ranked by the U.S. News & World Report's 2010 survey. Peabody has held a top-10 ranking for the last 14 years.

Some information taken verbatim from Flores' Vanderbilt bio and the Peabody web site.

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