Our fifth class of Fellows represents professors, practitioners and graduate students from a broad range of disciplines and backgrounds, and includes our inaugural Senior Fellow and first undergraduate Fellow. This cohort will research complex topics such as the perceptions and attitudes of international students, threats to academic freedom from state legislatures, and the racial and gender tropes Black women encounter while exercising free expression. Their projects will include developing educational materials and programs that can serve as a roadmap to safeguarding and encouraging the robust exchange of ideas while simultaneously upholding the institutional values of equity and inclusion.
Learn more about the 2022-2023 class of Fellows and their work by watching this brief video:
Executive Director, North Carolina Campus Engagement
Research Title: "Disrupting Mis & Dis-Information in the University Setting"
Leslie Garvin is the Executive Director of North Carolina Campus Engagement, a collaborative network of 38 colleges & universities committed to preparing students for civic and social responsibility, partnering with communities for positive change, and strengthening democracy. In this role she facilitates faculty and staff professional development, builds strategic partnerships to strengthen and expand higher education community and civic engagement, and leads the elections & democracy and food insecurity initiatives. A skilled facilitator, she has trained over 400 hundred individuals in the National Issues Forum deliberative dialogue method and Theater of the Oppressed. Garvin is also a Collaborative Discussion Coach and Braver Angels moderator.
Garvin has co-authored chapters in Critical Intersections In Contemporary Curriculum & Pedagogy (Info Age Publishing, 2018) and Practical Wisdom for Conducting Research on Service Learning: Pursuing Quality and Purpose (Stylus Publishing, 2019). She served as an author and editor for the Primer on Benefits and Value of Civic and Community Engagement in Higher Education (2021).
Garvin holds a Master of Social Work with a concentration in social and economic development and a specialization in management, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in political science and African-American Studies, both from Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to joining NCCC in 2005, she worked in the community leadership development and interfaith service fields. She serves on the Board of Directors of the National Issues Forum and co-chairs the State Summits & Networks Subcommittee of the Students Learn Students Vote Coalition.
Neal Hutchens & Brandi Hephner LaBanc
Professor of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation, University of Kentucky; Vice President for Student Engagement and Enrollment Services, Old Dominion University
Research Title: "Social Media: The Real Campus Speech Zone"
Dr. Hutchens currently serves as a Professor of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation at the University of Kentucky. He previously served as Professor and Associate Chair in the University of Mississippi School of Education’s Department of Higher Education and as inaugural chair for the Department of Higher Education. He was also an Affiliated Faculty in the University of Mississippi School of Law. Hutchens earned his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland and his J.D. from the University of Alabama School of Law. His research focuses on legal and policy issues in higher education, with a key strand of his scholarship centered on free speech and academic freedom.
Dr. Hephner LaBanc currently serves as Vice President for Student Engagement and Enrollment Services at Old Dominion University. She previously served as the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Professor in the Higher Education program. With over 25 years of experience in higher education, she has served as Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Professor of Higher Education at the University of Mississippi, and held multiple administrative roles at Northern Illinois University, Arizona State University, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Baldwin-Wallace College, and The University of Akron.
Ph.D. Candidate, Global Governance and Human Security, University of Massachusetts - Boston
Research Title: "'Excuse me, I'm speaking': Reconceptualizing Freedom of Speech Through a Black Feminist Lens"
Krystal-Gayle O'Neill (She/Her) is a Ph.D. candidate in the Global Governance and Human Security program in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security and Global Governance, at the University of Massachusetts Boston’s McCormack Graduate School. She is also an Adam Smith and Dan Lavoie Fellow at The Mercatus Center, George Mason University. She is also the President of the UMass Boston Graduate Student Assembly (GSA). She is from St. Catherine, Jamaica and holds a B.Ed. (Business and Computer Studies) from the University of Technology, Jamaica, an MBA and MS in College Student Affairs (Conflict Resolution concentration) from Nova Southeastern University (Davie, Fl), an M. Phil (Social Sciences) from Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT) and an MA in Conflict Resolution (UMass Boston). Her research interests include: Gender and Sexuality, Post-colonization in Latin America and the Caribbean, Inter/Intragroup Dialogues and Restorative and Social Justice practices. She has taught classes around race, gender and sexuality, global gender politics, global politics and navigating cross cultural conflict at UMass Boston and Babson College.
Amna Khalid & Jeff Snyder
Associate Professor, Department of History, Carleton College; Associate Professor, Department of Educational Studies, Carleton College
Research Title: "Anti-CRT Bills Come to Campus: Documenting and Analyzing Emerging Threats to Free Expression and Academic Freedom from State Legislatures"
Amna Khalid is Associate Professor in the Department of History at Carleton College, where she specializes in South Asian history. She has written multiple book chapters on the history of public health in nineteenth-century India. Born in Pakistan, Khalid completed her Bachelor's Degree at Lahore University of Management Sciences, continuing on to earn an M.Phil. in Development Studies and a D.Phil. in History from the University of Oxford. Growing up under a series of military dictatorships, Khalid has a strong interest in censorship and free expression. In 2020/21, she served as the inaugural John Stuart Mill Faculty Fellow at Heterodox Academy. A founding member of the Academic Freedom Alliance, she currently hosts a podcast called "Banished," which explores threats to free expression in higher education and beyond.
Jeff Snyder is Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Studies at Carleton College, where his research and teaching focus on past and present educational policy and school reform movements. A Carleton alumnus, Snyder earned an EdM in Learning and Teaching from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a PhD in the History of Education from New York University. Snyder’s work explores questions about race, national identity and the purpose of public education in a diverse, democratic society. He is the author of the 2018 book, Making Black History: The Color Line, Culture and Race in the Age of Jim Crow. Snyder has a keen interest in issues of academic freedom and free expression, especially as they relate to liberal arts education.
Khalid and Snyder--separately and together--speak frequently on academic freedom and free speech at college and universities as well as at professional conferences. Their writing on these topics--solo and co-authored--has appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the New Republic and the Washington Post, among other publications.
Ph.D. Candidate, Educational Leadership and Policy, The University of Texas at Austin
Research Title: "How Faculty Contend with Threats to Academic Freedom and Racial Inclusion"
Jackie is a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin within the Educational Leadership and Policy department and works as a Graduate Research Assistant under the supervision of Dr. Liliana Garces. She currently works on a project, funded by the Spencer Foundation, that examines how law-based pressures, such as state legislation related to free speech, shape campus-wide inclusion policy. Prior to pursuing her PhD, Jackie received her M.Ed. from the University of Texas at Austin and her B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida. She has had a wealth of professional experiences across the P-20 educational pipeline including roles in K-12 instruction, non-profit management, educational technology, and higher education administration.
As a daughter of Cuban immigrants, Jackie’s research focuses on equity and access in higher education and the institutionalization of diversity initiatives through a historical and organizational lens. Her most recent funded project examines a Latino Campus Cultural Center and how through racialized organizational structures and policies, there is ultimately a cost for students, staff, and the broader community when institutionalizing diversity initiatives and spaces.
Jackie’s work as an interdisciplinary scholar utilizes public scholarship, like oral history, and community-based research to democratize knowledge and disrupt powers and structures historically present within knowledge production and dissemination. She serves as the Managing Editor for the US Latina & Latino Oral History Journal and is a Graduate Student Member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice. Her work has been recognized at major education and interdisciplinary conferences such as the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the Oral History Association (OHA), the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), and the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS).
Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Pennsylvania State University
Research Title: "Universities' Response to Offensive and Bias-Related Speech and Behaviors"
Danny Shaha received his Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Texas A&M University, his Master of Arts in College Student Personnel from Bowling Green State University, and his Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership from Lamar University.
Since the summer of 2017, Danny has served as an Assistant Vice President (AVP) for Student Affairs at Penn State University in State College, PA. In this capacity, he supervises the University’s offices of Student Conduct, Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response, Student Care and Advocacy, Fraternity and Sorority Compliance, Off Campus Student Support, Respondent Support, and Student Legal Services. He also co-chairs the University's Behavioral Threat Management Team and holds responsibility for the University’s response to student-related crises and bias-related incidents. Danny also served as the University’s Interim Title IX Coordinator from 2017 to 2018.
Prior to the AVP role, Danny served as the Senior Director of the Office of Student Conduct (OSC) at Penn State for seven years. In this role, he oversaw the administration of the University’s conduct process at its primary campus in University Park, PA, as well as its 22 additional campuses, including its two law schools and medical school, across the Commonwealth and online, with a total enrollment of approximately 99,000 students. While serving as Senior Director of OSC, from January of 2012 to July of 2017, he served as a Deputy Title IX Coordinator at the University, and from November of 2015 to July of 2017, Danny served as the Interim Director of the University’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.
Prior to joining Penn State, Danny worked in different capacities at The Ohio State University, Texas A&M University, and the College of William and Mary. He also served as a Special Agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, specializing in counterterrorism and counterintelligence.
Undergrad Student, English and Political Science - Public Service, UC Davis
Research Title: "Undergraduate Student Advocacy in the University of California System: a Handbook"
Emma Tolliver is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Davis. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English and Political Science - Public Service with a minor in Human Rights Studies. Tolliver is a member of and peer mentor for UC Davis’s University Honors Program (UHP), a commissioner for the Gender and Sexuality Commission - Associated Students of UC Davis (GASC-ASUCD), and the editor-in-chief of Davis Journal of Legal Studies (DJLS). Tolliver is a two-time recipient of the UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement “Valuing Open and Inclusive Conversation and Engagement” (VOICE) Initiative Award, which she received for her work as editor-in-chief of DJLS.
Tolliver is a published author. Her published works include academic research papers, poetry, short prose, and a novel. Her most recent publication, an academic research paper entitled "Home (Not) Free: an Evaluation of Housing Costs and California State University (CSU) Graduation Rates", was published in August 2021 in Vol. 32 of Prized Writing, UC Davis’s annual publication consisting of exemplary undergraduate writing from across the disciplines.
Tolliver plans to attend law school after her graduation from UC Davis in June 2023; her ambition is to become a prosecutor within a Victim Services Department and to work on cases related to human trafficking and gender-based violence.
Elizabeth Niehaus - Senior Fellow
Associate Professor, Educational Administration, University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Research Title: "Beyond the Moral Panic of 'Student Self-Censorship'”
Dr. Elizabeth Niehaus is Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Her current research focuses on how we can create and improve educational environments to facilitate student learning and development in higher education, with a particular emphasis on the intersections of issues of free speech, academic freedom, and campus climate. Dr. Niehaus’s other research interests include study abroad, international education, graduate student and faculty professional development, and service-learning programs. At the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Dr. Niehaus teaches courses on diversity issues in higher education, college student development, research methods, and free speech and campus climate.
Dr. Niehaus earned her Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics from the University of Virginia, her Master’s degree in American Culture Studies from Washington University in St. Louis, and her PhD in College Student Personnel Administration from the University of Maryland, College Park. She has published her research in a wide variety of scholarly and practitioner-oriented outlets, including the Journal of College Student Development, The Journal of Higher Education, the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, and Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad. She has received a number of grants to further her research on alternative breaks, short-term study abroad, and tertiary student engagement and development in Trinidad and Tobago, served as a 2020-2021 Fellow with the UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement, and was a recipient of the 2017 Excellence in International Research and Service to the International Community Awards from ACPA: College Student Educators International.