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NISTS recognizes work of transfer pros

March 3, 2021

The National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS) has awarded 13 higher education faculty, staff and students for their efforts to aid transfer students. It honored the recipients at its virtual annual conference held Feb. 23-25 before a record 950 attendees.

Dr. Estela Mara Bensimon, the event's keynote speaker, received the Bonita C. Jacobs Transfer Champion Award, the organization's highest honor. The founding director of the Center for Urban Education at the University of Southern California (USC) and a faculty member emerita, Bensimon challenged attendees to fulfill the racial equity imperative in transfer.

"A higher education luminary and co-author of the term 'transfer agent,' Dr. Bensimon addressed transfer as a means of corrective justice and challenged us to study our practices and policies from a racial equity perspective," said Janet L. Marling, executive director for NISTS. "We are grateful to have learned from such a trailblazer, and it was truly special to surprise her with this award and video presentation."

NISTS was founded in 2002 by UNG President Bonita Jacobs in response to a lack of professional development opportunities and research literature focused specifically on transfer students. The institute is now based on UNG's Dahlonega Campus.

The Bonita C. Jacobs Transfer Champion — Catalyst Award recognizes mid-career professionals who are game-changers in the transfer field and have worked over time to make a significant impact at the institutional, regional and/or state level. The winners were:

  • Ellen Goldberg, director of the Transfer Center at Harold Washington College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago.
  • Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner, president and CEO of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
  • Dr. Xueli Wang, Barbara and Glenn Thompson Professor in Educational Leadership at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Bonita C. Jacobs Transfer Champion — Rising Star Award recognizes individuals who make significant contributions in the early stages of their careers, creating or improving programming that is responsive to the specific transfer student population and shows evidence of success. The awardees were:

  • Dr. Shannon Hayes Buenaflor, assistant director of transfer student advising and admissions at the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering.
  • Renee Esparza, transfer resources director at Austin Community College.
  • Randi Petrauskas Harris, director of Portland State University's Transfer and Returning Student Resource Center.
  • Dr. Danyelle Tauryce Ireland, associate director of the Center for Women in Technology and research assistant professor of engineering and computing education at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Transfer Student Ambassadors were selected through a national competition intended to recognize outstanding students who represent the heart of transfer work. All four demonstrated excellence in leadership, public speaking, and their potential for sharing meaningful information with higher education transfer professionals. They were:

  • Dipti Karnani, University of South Florida.
  • Michael Morgan, Oglethorpe University.
  • Keirra Scott, University of Michigan.
  • Emily Sturm, Colorado State University.

The Barbara K. Townsend Dissertation Award winner was Dr. Dustin Grote, postdoctoral associate in engineering education at Virginia Tech. His research seeks to make higher education access more equitable for minority and low-income students through focused improvements to community college pathways, postsecondary policy, organizations and systems, and assessment and evaluation of higher education institutions.

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