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Dean's Distinguished Speaker Series

Dean's Distinguished Speaker Series 2022-23

Will (D)iversity, (E)quity and (I)nclusion Die?: Advocacy and Action Towards Greater Accountability in an Empowered University

The 2022-23 Dean's Distinguished Speaker Series aims to facilitate conversation with preeminent scholars in education on the speaker series topic. The speaker series builds on our historic and current University of Illinois efforts related to community and public engagement, and the increasing expectations of addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in schools, workplace, and our general society. Ultimately, the speaker series aims to reimagine our role as university actors, catalysts, and social change agents and to spark ways to take accountability, advocacy, and action amidst the challenges and opportunities of building a more equitable, just, and empowered institution and world.

Dr. Joy Gaston Gayles

North Carolina State University

Tuesday, March 6, 2022
Noon - 1:00 p.m. 
Location TBD

Joy Gaston Gayles is an Alumni Association Distinguished Graduate Professor of Higher Education and Senior Advisor for the Advancement of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the College of Education at North Carolina State University. Dr. Gayles is internationally recognized for her research and scholarship on women and people of color in STEM fields and her work in the area of intercollegiate athletics in higher education. Issues of equity, inclusion, and justice undergird the collective body of her work.

Dr. Gayles is one of the primary thought leaders in her field of study and was recently named as one of 25 innovative women leading higher education in DIVERSE: Issues in Higher Education magazine. She is Immediate Past President of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), the primary professional association for studying post-secondary education issues.

Dr. Gayles is nationally known for her work in partnership with the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD) the largest faculty development center in the United States. In addition, she serves as a faculty success coach and campus workshop facilitator. To date, she has coached well over 100 faculty across the country and conducted over 50 campus workshops on topics such as mentoring, tenure and time management, mid-career faculty success, and writing through resistance.

Over the course of her career, she has won numerous awards for her scholarly contributions and for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education. In 2020 she received the Chancellor’s Creating Community Award for Outstanding Faculty at NC State and was named University Scholar in 2018, two of the highest faculty awards at NC State University. She also received the Zenobia L. Hikes Woman of Color in the Academy Award for advancing the development of young women of color in their pursuit of excellence. She is a community builder at heart and values engaging in work that makes a real difference in the lives of others. 



Dr. April Baker-Bell

Associate Professor
Michigan State University


Monday, April 24, 2022
Noon - 1:00 p.m. 
Location TBD

April Baker-Bell is an award-winning transdisciplinary teacher-researcher-activist and associate professor of language, literacy, and English education in the Department of English and Department of African American and African Studies at Michigan State University. Baker-Bell is an international leader in conversations on Black Language education, and her research interrogates the intersections of Black Language and literacies, anti-Black racism, and antiracist pedagogies. Her award-winning book, Linguistic Justice: Black Language, Literacy, Identity, and Pedagogy, brings together theory, research, and practice to dismantle Anti-Black Linguistic Racism (a term Baker-Bell coined) and white linguistic supremacy. Baker-Bell's latest research project involves collaborating with healthcare scholars and researchers to develop, implement and study antiracist medical curriculum interventions that support medical professionals with developing an antiracist praxis for confronting and reducing racial bias and anti-Black racism in medical and healthcare institutions. Baker-Bell is the recipient of many awards and fellowships, including the 2021 Coalition for Community Writing Outstanding Book Award, the 2021 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s New Directions Fellowship, the 2021 Michigan State University’s Community Engagement Scholarship Award and the 2021 Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Creative Activity, the 2020 NCTE George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language, the 2020 Theory Into Practice Article of the Year Award, the 2019 Michigan State University Alumni Award for Innovation & Leadership in Teaching and Learning, and the 2018 AERA Language and Social Processes Early Career Scholar Award.


Dr. Margaret Beale Spencer

Marshall Field IV Professor of Urban Education
University of Chicago

Tuesday, May 2, 2023
Noon - 1:00 p.m.
Location TBD

Margaret Beale Spencer, PhD is the Charles F Grey Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Comparative Human Development and the College and is the Marshall Field IV Professor of Urban Education at the University of Chicago.  A developmental psychologist, she is also an alumna of the Committee on Human Development at the University of Chicago. Before returning to Chicago, she was the endowed Board of Overseers Professor and Director of the Interdisciplinary Studies of Human Development (ISHD) Program and faculty member in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania (Psychology in Education Division). Additionally, she was Director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Health Achievement Neighborhood Growth and Ethnic Studies (CHANGES), and also guided as its inaugural director, the W. E. B. Du Bois Collective Research Institute. Guiding the noted efforts and continuing to frame her scholarship, Spencer's Phenomenological Variant of Ecological Systems Theory (P-VEST) provides an identity-focused cultural ecological perspective which frames her gender, race, culture and context acknowledging program of human development research. Recognizing the universality of human vulnerability, the theory addresses resiliency, identity, and competence formation processes for diverse humans situated both in the United States and abroad.

Having authored over 140 scholarly publications, edited several volumes, and provided Congressional Testimony in the nation’s Capital, Margaret Beale Spencer was recently elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2019). She is a recipient of the 2018 LifeTime Achievement Award from the American Psychological Association, the Division 7 (Developmental Science) 2018 Urie Bronfenbrenner Award for Distinguished Contributions to Developmental Science, and the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Award for Distinguished Contributions to Cultural and Ecological Research.  Margaret Beale Spencer’s scholarship has been generated from dozens of grants awarded by Foundations and Federal funding submissions as well as featured in ABC and CNN programming broadcasted internationally.


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