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Department Head, Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor of Higher Education Joy Gaston Gayles Receives 2024 Alumni Association Outstanding Research Award, Induction into Research Leadership Academy

Joy Gaston Gayles, head of the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development and an Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor of higher education in the NC State College of Education, has been selected as a recipient of the 2024 Alumni Association Outstanding Research Award. 

The award recognizes NC State’s leading scholars and faculty members based upon their excellence in discovery and innovation, long-term commitment to and excellence in mentoring NC State faculty, and a record of service to the NC State research community. 

Gayles is one of four faculty members across NC State selected to receive the award this year. As a recipient, she will also be inducted into the Research Leadership Academy (RLA), a group comprised of NC State’s most outstanding researchers and mentors across various fields.

“It’s quite an honor to receive this prestigious award and be inducted into the Research Leadership Academy. It’s one of the highest university awards,” Gayles said. “This award reflects back to me my responsibility to contribute to the knowledge community in positive ways; in ways that make a positive difference in the lives of others.”

Gayles’ research focuses on success in higher education environments, particularly among college athletes, women and people of color in STEM fields as well as success among faculty. Her work in this area aims to identify barriers while increasing awareness and knowledge in order to improve higher education environments, policy and practice. 

Over the years, Gayles’ work has been recognized with numerous awards from NC State as well as other organizations. In 2020, she received the Senior Scholar Award from the AERA Research on Education and Sport Special Interest Group (SIG) as well as the Chancellor’s Creating Community Award for Outstanding Faculty. She has also been the recipient of the Ebony Harlem Graduate Student Mentorship Award and Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professorship Award, both from NC State, and was named among 25 leading women in higher education by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education in 2022. 

One of the aspects of her career that she’s most proud of, she said, was her term as president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE). Additionally, she is proud of the work she’s done with the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity, where she has coached more than 150 faculty members across the United States as well as conducted more than 100 workshops and webinars. 

“The ultimate goal is to help institutions create practical solutions that humanize and support all faculty in the academy,” she said. 

As a newly inducted member of the Research Leadership Academy, Gayles said she is excited to draw on her past work and experiences to help strengthen the research culture among her colleagues. 
“I’ve already been doing this work on many levels, serving as a past keynote speaker for research week, for example. Now, I get to participate at a higher level,” she said. “I hope to use what I learn to also help build a strong research culture in my department as department head and throughout the College of Education.”