Research News

UW–Madison’s Hernandez receives NAEd/Spencer Foundation Research Development Award

July 31, 2019

UW-Madison’s Anthony Hernandez was awarded a prestigious 2019 National Academy of Education (NAEd)/Spencer Foundation Research Development Award.

This award provides Hernandez, a Ph.D. student with the Department of Educational Policy Studies, with a stipend to use toward research expenses or professional development. It also includes travel to Washington, D.C., for the 2019 NAEd/Spencer Fall Fellows Retreat and Annual Meeting, and to the 2020 American Educational Research Association’s Annual Meeting, all of which provide opportunities to network and present his research to a broad audience.

According to an NAEd news release about all of this year’s award winners, Hernandez has an abiding passion for improving educational opportunities for Latinx students. During his time at UW–Madison, he worked for three years at the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, a think tank studying college affordability. There he coordinated national surveys on basic needs insecurity. The first study included 70 community colleges; the second included 66 colleges, about half of which were two-year institutions. Those mixed-methods studies, covered in various media outlets including the New York Times and National Public Radio, raised awareness regarding material hardship in higher education.

Also during his time at UW–Madison, Hernandez has served as a lead evaluator with the Wisconsin Evaluation Collaborative, where he led a two-year review of the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program.

Prior to arriving at UW–Madison, while at a four-year Hispanic-serving institution, Hernandez led a Title V grant partnership with a community college. Building a seamless pathway for students to transfer to a four-year college, he recognized that leadership issues significantly affect institutional achievements and student outcomes in ways rarely captured in mainstream literature and models. He completed studies of leadership at Harvard Business School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government that helped him learn to build teams and make plans that contributed to organizational goals.

The news release add that Hernandez hopes to become a faculty member at a top research institution to continue his investigation of these issues. Based on his dissertation, he plans to build an educational leadership program and professional development workshops for HSI leaders.

Specifically, Hernandez will use this NAEd/Spencer Foundation Research Development Award to further a project titled, “Pockets of Opportunity: An Analysis of Leadership at Two-Year Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs).”

A summary of the project provided in the NAEd news release notes that given the rapid growth of Latinx college students, with some predicting that by 2020 more than 20 percent of college students will be Latinx, there is a need to understand Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) — especially open-access, two-year colleges.

Latinx students disproportionately attend HSIs community colleges for a variety of reasons and their poor outcomes are of great concern given the impact on our future workforce. Understanding what leadership looks like at HSIs, how to fortify leadership at HSIs which can, ultimately, improve outcomes for Latinx students, a traditionally underrepresented, underserved minority group, contributes to our social goals of greater equity.

The news release notes that Hernandez will utilize a mixed-methods approach to investigate leadership at Hispanic-serving community colleges in the Southwest United States. A case-study approach and descriptive statistics are used to draw from multiple data sources to examine leadership, leadership styles and the impact of such leadership on stakeholders. This study also juxtaposes institutions situated in a socio-political context where no state funding exists for community colleges while the other institutions have a myriad of funding sources and qualitatively different socio-political context. This multi-state study furthers our understanding of challenges faced by leaders at Hispanic-serving institution community colleges and offers valuable evidence on how to improve student experiences, retention, graduation, and transition to post-secondary opportunities. The results illuminate the hidden elements of leadership that can make an HSIs successful and provide a new framework for quality that complements measures such as those offered by Aspen Institute, which influence the distribution of recognition and, at times, funding.

In addition to the NAEd/Spencer Foundation Research Development Award, Hernandez also received an Education Graduate Research Scholars (Ed-GRS) Fellowship at UW–Madison for the fall 2019 and spring 2020 semesters.

Hernandez also won the Christine and Philip Lodewick Award from the Philip H. and Christine Lodewick Foundation. This honor goes to a graduate student who intends to pursue a career serving schools with predominantly minority populations, and who is most likely to be an outstanding leader in the field of multi-cultural education.

Hernandez is advised by Lesley Bartlett, a professor with the Department of Educational Policy Studies.