Liliana Garces

Photo of faculty member Liliana M Garces
Professor, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy
Affiliate Faculty, School of Law
Affiliate Faculty, Center for Mexican American Studies, College of Liberal Arts
Affiliate Faculty, Texas Center for Equity Promotion
W. K. Kellogg Professorship of Community College Leadership (Holder)

Office: SZB 3.714H
Office Hours: Friday 12-2pm
View Curriculum Vitae (pdf)

Liliana M. Garces is the W.K. Kellogg Professor in Community College Leadership at the University of Texas at Austin. She also holds courtesy appointments at the University of Texas School of Law and the Center for Mexican American Studies. She teaches courses on higher education law, equity and diversity in higher education, and race, law, and education. Her scholarship broadly examines how legal and education systems shape educational opportunity and create inequality for historically marginalized student populations. Her interdisciplinary work is grounded in the conceptual understanding that legal and education systems interact dynamically through the actions of organizational actors that initiate lawsuits, influence legal decision-making, and interpret and implement legal rulings within educational contexts. These actions shape education policies and practices to exacerbate or reduce social inequality. Drawing from frameworks in socio-legal studies, sociology, education, law, and political science, she employs quantitative, qualitative, and legal research methods to investigate this dynamic. Her research has been funded by the Sloan Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Trellis Foundation, the William T. Grant Foundation, and the W.E. Upjohn Institute.

Dr. Garces's scholarship has been published in a variety of top peer-reviewed education journals, including Educational Researcher, American Educational Research Journal, American Journal of Education, Journal of Higher Education, Educational Policy, Teachers College Record, Peabody Journal of Education, The Review of Higher Education, and Urban Review, as well as law journals, policy reports, and books. She is co-editor of Racial Equity on College Campuses: Connecting Research and Practice (SUNY Press, 2022), School Integration Matters: Research-Based Strategies to Advance Racial Equity (Teachers College Press, 2016), and Affirmative Action and Racial Equity: Considering the Fisher Case to Forge the Path Ahead (Routledge, 2015). She is on the editorial boards for Educational Researcher, Sociology of Education, and American Educational Research Journal. She is an active member of national organizations focused on education issues.

Over the years, Dr. Garces's work has been featured in National Public Radio, The New York Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed., and other media outlets, and at various invited briefings at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Her research has been recognized by the American Education Research Association with the Palmer O. Johnson Memorial Award for an article of outstanding importance to education research in 2013 and by the Association for the Study of Higher Education with the 2015 Early Career Award and with the 2020 Excellence in Public Policy Higher Education Award. She was most recently recognized as one of the top 200 university-based scholars who did the most to shape educational practice and policy in 2023.

Combining her expertise in law and education, Dr. Garces has represented the education community in the filing of legal briefs in U.S. Supreme Court cases that have played consequential roles in interpreting law around race-conscious policies in education. She served as counsel of record and co-wrote, with leading scholars in the field, amicus briefs joined by hundreds of social scientists in the following cases: Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District (2007) (553 signatories); Fisher v. University of Texas I (2013) (444 signatories); Fisher v. University of Texas II (2016) (823 signatories); and Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action (2014) (filed by The Civil Rights Project/Projecto Derechos Civiles at the University of California, Los Angeles). Most recently, she served as counsel and co-authored an amicus brief filed by 1,241 social scientists in support of Harvard’s defense of its race-conscious admissions policies in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard.

Prior appointments before the University of Texas at Austin include: Associate Professor at The Pennsylvania State University, where she co-directed and co-founded the Center for Education and Civil Rights; Assistant Professor at The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development; and Post-Doctorate Fellow at the University of Michigan's National Poverty Center in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. Prior to becoming faculty, she worked as a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, Immigrants' Rights Project, and the Legal Aid Society in DC, and as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable John C. Coughenour in US District Court for the Western District of Washington.

Dr. Garces holds a doctorate in education from Harvard University, a juris doctor from the University of Southern California School of Law, and a bachelor of arts from Brown University.