Joy Gaston Gayles, Ph.D., professor of higher education and senior advisor for advancing diversity, equity and inclusion at the NC State College of Education, has been named president-elect of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), a scholarly society with 2,000 members dedicated to higher education as a field of study.
Gayles, who has served as an at-large member of the association’s Board of Directors since 2018 and has been a member of the organization since her time as a graduate student at The Ohio State University, said she was surprised and honored when she was approached about running for the president-elect position.
“I grew up professionally in this organization and it is my professional home. I am still growing and learning, so sometimes I forget that I am now considered a senior scholar in the field,” she said. “Being elected by my peers to serve as president-elect is a huge professional milestone that I will take very seriously. I am honored that my peers have entrusted me with this awesome responsibility to lead our field and shape the conversation about higher education research, theory and practice for years to come.”
Gayles will serve a three-year term, beginning in November 2020 as president-elect before becoming president in 2022 and immediate past president in 2023. She will have the opportunity to work alongside board members, council chairs and incoming President D-L Stewart, Ph.D., who was in her doctoral cohort and whose experience she hopes to build on in her future role as president.
As president-elect, Gayles said that she hopes to highlight and promote the work that scholars in the field of higher education are doing to address challenges in postsecondary education and beyond and to build on initiatives to support graduate students and early-career faculty.
In addition, as the world of higher education grapples with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and issues related to racial injustice, Gayles hopes to seize the challenges as an opportunity for change. She hopes to motivate board and association members to express vulnerability, embrace failure, show courage and take risks to fight for the greater good.
“During my time in this role, I want to encourage our members to keep doing good work, to get into good trouble, turn fear and anger into courage and action, take intellectual risks and do so with care and compassion for others,” Gayles said.
Gayles researches access and success within postsecondary education and how college impacts student development, with a particular focus on intercollegiate athletics and the experiences of women and people of color in STEM education.
In her candidate statement, Gayles confirmed her commitment to work with ASHE to produce high-quality research that is equitable, just and informative to policy and practice and to find solutions to issues through work as a diverse, multi-disciplinary community.
Being part of a scholarly organization that values and practices diversity, equity and inclusion, Gayles said, is energizing, but she believes that there is additional work to be done to promote equity.
“We live, work and play in a diverse society and that diversity should be and must be reflected in all microcosms of our society. We learn so much more and are able to solve complex problems when we are able to broaden our perspective and incorporate diverse points of view,” she said. “We have to keep showing up, asking hard questions and challenging ourselves. We have come a long way as an organization, but there is more work to be done and shared.”