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Assistant Professor, Southern Methodist University, Southern Methodist University

Denisa Gándara is an Assistant Professor of Education Policy and Leadership at Southern Methodist University. Her research agenda broadly explores higher education policy formulation processes and impacts, especially on populations traditionally underserved in higher education. Her work appears in The Journal of Higher Education, Research in Higher Education, Review of Higher Education, Teachers College Record, Journal of Education Finance, Community College Review, and Educational Policy. She currently serves as an associate editor for The Journal of Higher Education. Denisa received her Ph.D. from the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Georgia. Her research has been funded by the Ford Foundation and the National Academies of Sciences, the American Educational Research Association, the Spencer Foundation, and the Latino Center for Leadership Development, among other sources.


  • 2015–present
    Assistant Professor, Southern Methodist University


  • 2016 
    University of Georgia, Ph.D.
  • 2011 
    The University of Texas at Austin, B.A.


  • 2019
    The Journal of Higher Education, How the Sausage is Made: An Examination of a State Funding Model Design Process.
  • 2019
    Teachers College Record, College Completion, the Texas Way: An Examination of the Development of College Completion Policy in a Distinctive Political Culture.
  • 2019
    The Journal of Higher Education, Ideological Think Tank Activity and the Politics of College Affordability in the States.
  • 2019
    The Review of Higher Education, Does Evidence Matter? An Analysis of Evidence Use in Performance-Funding Policy Designs in Two States.
  • 2018
    Research in Higher Education, Mitigating Unintended Impacts? The Effects of Premiums for Underserved Populations in Performance-Funding Policies for Higher Education. Research in Higher Education, 59(6), 681-703.
  • 2018
    Community College Review, Do Performance-Funding Policies Disadvantage Two-Year Minority-Serving Institutions?
  • 2017
    , Outcomes- Based Funding and Race in Higher Education. Can Equity Be Bought?
  • 2017
    The Journal of Higher Education, Exploring the “How” in Policy Diffusion: A National Intermediary Organization’s Role in Facilitating the Spread of Performance Funding Policies in the States.
  • 2017
    Journal of Education Finance, Updated Estimates of the Average Financial Return on Master’s Degree Programs in the United States.
  • 2014
    Educational Policy, Ideological Think Tanks in the States: An Inventory of their Prevalence, Networks, and Higher Education Policy Activity.