Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership

Two women in the Educational Leadership and Policy program talk about a paper during class.

Program Co-Coordinators

Photo of Liliana Garces       Photo of Lauren Schudde

Liliana Garces  Lauren Schudde

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Michael Anthony Goodman

The Program in Higher Education Leadership (PHEL) is devoted to the scholarly study of higher education, its students and institutions, and its place in society. This program prepares, trains, and educates students to become researchers in academia and the private sector. 

Our faculty and students are in the vanguard of understanding and shaping the dynamic environment of higher education now and in the future. Higher education is being reconceived and reorganized through:

  • increased access and challenges in retention and completion for more diverse student communities,
  • intensified accountability and governmental oversight,
  • the need for lifelong avenues of learning and re-training, and
  • the opportunities presented by digital innovations both in and out of the classroom.

Students seeking a Ph.D. receive a thorough grounding in the functioning of postsecondary institutions and in the skills of administration, decision-making, and leadership. They develop an understanding of the particular role of postsecondary institutions in society as both distributors and creators of knowledge, the historical context from which those institutions have emerged, and the ethical considerations that must surround and guide the enterprise.

Finally, the program prepares doctoral students to be consumers and producers of postsecondary research and scholarship, while socializing students towards possible careers in academia and higher education leadership.

This degree emphasizes preparation for a research career in which the graduate will add to the core of knowledge that is the basis for informed practice. The curriculum is oriented toward the development of theory and research skills in a variety of methodologies and includes a strong secondary emphasis in a cognate field of study.

This program starts in the fall semester.


Core Faculty

Photo of Norma Cantu

Norma Cantú, J.D.

Ken McIntyre Professor for Excellence in School Leadership

With a background as assistant secretary of education for Civil Rights in the Clinton Administration, she teaches topics in civil rights and the intersection of law and policy in education.

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Stella Flores

Associate Professor

Examines the effects of state and federal policies on college access and completion outcomes for low-income and underrepresented populations including immigrant and English Learner students.

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Denisa Gándara

Assistant Professor

Explores higher education policy and finance, focusing on college access and success for populations historically underserved in higher education.

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Liliana Garces


Examines how legal and education systems interact to shape educational opportunity and create inequality for historically marginalized student populations; topics include race-conscious policies in postsecondary admissions, freedom of expression and inclusion and the use of research in law.

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Michael Anthony Goodman

Assistant Professor of Practice

Focuses on student governance and involvement in the areas of college student government, the student body presidency, sorority/fraternity life, equity and justice issues, queer students and issues in higher education, and educational crises and emergencies.

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Manuel J Justiz


A. M. Aikin Regents Chair in Education Leadership

Bringing the experience of 28 years as dean of the College of Education, Justiz shares his expertise in topics of public policy, the politics of education, and providing equal access for minorities in education.

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Marilyn C. Kameen


A. M. Aikin Regents Chair in Junior and Community College Education Leadership

Interests include academic administration, faculty in higher education, and college student development with research on college teaching and minorities in higher education.

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Richard J. Reddick


Examines the experiences of faculty of color at predominantly White institutions; mentoring relationships between faculty and Black students; and work-life balance in academia.

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Victor B. Sáenz

Professor & Department Chair

W. K. Kellogg Professor of Community College Leadership

Leads the Project MALES (Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success Initiative focused on Latino males in education; seeks to advance research-informed policy solutions that enhance educational outcomes for underserved students in secondary and post-secondary education.

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Lauren Schudde

Associate Professor

Studies how to ameliorate social inequities in the United States through higher education policy; focuses on college pathways at broad-access institutions, including community colleges.

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Patricia Somers

Associate Professor

Serves as a faculty affiliate in Women’s and Gender Studies and Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies. Researches topics such as campus safety, higher education law, academic freedom, and higher education in Brazil.

Affiliated Faculty

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Cassandre Giguere Alvarado

Assistant Professor of Practice

Executive Director for Student Success Initiatives

Focuses research on student success and graduation initiatives, including innovative college readiness assignments, student success programs and understanding the completion agenda.

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Michael Bohlig

Assistant Professor of Practice

As Assistant Director of Research at CCCSE, Bohlig’s research interests center on student success at community colleges and the effects of enrollment status and developmental education on persistence and completion.

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Aileen Bumphus

Assistant Professor of Practice

Associate Vice President for Academic Diversity Initiatives in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement

Research interests include educational leadership, emotional intelligence, and resiliency.

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Carrie Lou Garberoglio

Assistant Professor of Practice

Serves as Co-Director of the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes, focused on dismantling systemic barriers in the transition period through high school and beyond that prevent deaf people from reaching their goals. 

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Linda Garcia

Assistant Professor of Practice

Assistant Director of College Relations of the Center for Community College Student Engagement

Oversees the Center’s community college relations and serves as a point of contact for state leaders, funders and national higher education organizations.

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David Gardner

Adjunct Professor

Interests include higher education policy and planning focused on expanding participation in higher education, improving graduation rates, and ensuring success in the workforce.

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Douglas Garrard

Assistant Professor of Practice

Serves as Associate Vice President for Campus Life and Senior Associate Dean of Students, and teaches courses related to on-campus culture in higher education.

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Matt Giani

Assistant Professor of Practice
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Sharon Justice

Assistant Professor of Practice

Interests include:  student affairs administration, professional staff development, college student development, retention programs for students of color.

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Mylon Kirksy

Assistant Professor of Practice

Director of Residence Life for Housing and Food Service

Teaches courses that examine the intersectionality of culture, organizations, and systems of privilege, power, and difference in higher education.

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Edward Leach

Assistant Professor of Practice

Executive Director of the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development, a consortium of community and technical colleges that share a philosophical commitment to support excellence in teaching, learning, and leadership. 

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Charles Martinez, Jr.


Lee Hage Jamail Regents Chair in Education, Sid W. Richardson Regents Chair

Focuses on identifying factors that hinder or promote the success of children and families from vulnerable and underserved populations.

Celena Mondie-Milner

Senior Outreach Program Coordinator

Serves as Senior Outreach Program Coordinator for the Center for Space Research and the NASA Texas Space Grant Consortium, focusing on Education and Outreach to promote space education to students, teachers, and the general public.

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Soncia Reagins-Lilly

Professor of Practice, Vice President for Student Affairs

Shares her expertise in higher education policy, administration and finance, strategic planning, and leadership development as the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.

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Justin T. Samuel

Assistant Professor of Practice

Focuses research on South Asian American college students, diversity training efficacy for student leaders, and work/life integration for student affairs administrators.

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LaToya Smith

Assistant Professor of Practice

Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement

Serves as the Title IX Coordinator and Associate Vice President of University Compliance Services to ensure the university holds high levels of integrity and ethical standards.

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Betty Jeanne Taylor

Assistant Professor of Practice

Assistant Vice President, Division of Diversity and Community Engagement

Focuses on university-wide campus climate initiatives including bias incident reporting and response as well as implementing best practices for inclusive classroom climates and faculty recruitment and retention.

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Aaron Voyles

Assistant Professor of Practice

Serves as the Associate Director for Student Learning and Development and researches post-qualitative and post-structuralist methodologies, discourse analysis, and gender performance.