Skip to main content

Estela Mara Bensimon, 2020 Prize Winner

Higher Education
Founder & Director, Center for Urban Education
University Professor & Dean’s Professor in Educational Equity
Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California

In a career devoted to racial and gender parity in higher education, Estela Mara Bensimon has been instrumental in creating more equitable campus environments across the United States for students and faculty alike. In 1999 she founded the Center on Urban Education, a nationally renowned research hub dedicated to transforming the institutional culture of American higher education. She developed the Equity Scorecard, a process for using inquiry to examine institutional practices at the university level so they can become more responsive to issues of racial and gender equity. Bensimon and her colleagues at the Center for Urban Education have provided hundreds of faculty and administrators with tools to create equitable curricula. The Equity Scorecard also helps them to develop equity mindedness, an increased awareness of how race and gender impact student and faculty, and how structural practices prevent many Black, Latinx, and other racially minoritized students from succeeding in higher education. The Equity Scorecard has been implemented by more than 100 community colleges, colleges, and state university systems from coast to coast.

Bensimon has published extensively on equity, organizational learning, and practitioner inquiry. She recently co-authored From Equity Talk to Equity Walk: Expanding Practitioner Knowledge for Racial Justice in Higher Education. She is past president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education. In 2017, Bensimon was elected to the National Academy of Education. She received the Social Justice Award from the American Educational Research Association, and the Research/Teaching Award for Outstanding Latino/a Faculty in Higher Education from the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education. She was a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico.

Bensimon emigrated from Argentina at age 12. She served in the Teacher Corps and was a community organizer in New Jersey for 10 years before becoming a bilingual educator and receiving her doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University.