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Jennifer Gerz-Escandón
Jennifer Gerz-Escandón

Jennifer Gerz-Escandón, The Graduate School’s associate dean for interdisciplinary education and fellowship programs, has been named a fellow in a national program focused on preparing academic leaders from underrepresented groups for senior leadership roles in higher education.

The IAspire Leadership Academy is within the Aspire Alliance’s Institutional Change Initiative, led by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the University of Georgia. The alliance is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science, or NSF INCLUDES, initiative.

During the leadership program, the 24 competitively selected fellows will learn effective executive-level skills for increasingly complex higher education environments, as well as strategies for influencing institutional transformation in their current and future leadership positions, the organization said.

“The second cohort of IAspire Leadership Academy fellows represent a broad diversity of STEM fields and leadership experiences across higher education sectors,” said Howard Gobstein, director of the Aspire Alliance and executive vice president at the APLU. “More inclusive college and university cultures require diversity in faculty and university leadership, and this academy helps to support the next generation of university faculty and leaders.”

Within her role at UNC-Chapel Hill, Gerz-Escandón develops and implements policies for a dozen fellowships, six awards and other graduate student-focused opportunities administered by The Graduate School. In collaboration with other UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, staff and administrators, she prepares students to apply for distinguished external fellowships, such as the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, and develops professional and leadership development opportunities for graduate students who hold fellowships.

Gerz-Escandón serves on several campus-wide committees, including the University Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council; Working Group on COVID-19 Impacts on Academic Experiential Education; Tuition and Fee Advisory Task Force; Global Affairs Leadership Group; Carolina Engagement Council; and Humanities for the Public Good Steering Committee.

“The IAspire Leadership Academy addresses a long-standing problem in higher education: the dearth of people of color in leadership positions,” said Suzanne Barbour, dean of The Graduate School. “Already a gifted leader, Jennifer brings a lot to the table that will enrich the IAspire Leadership Academy – including her creativity, strong organizational skills and ability to build consensus. I believe she will learn a lot from the Academy, as well, and will finish the fellowship even better positioned to serve graduate students at Carolina.”

Read full information about the IAspire Leadership Academy and the 24 fellows.

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