Estela Mara Bensimon is a professor of higher education at the USC Rossier School of Education and Director of the Center for Urban Education, which she founded in 1999. With a singular focus on increasing racial equity in higher education outcomes for students of color, she developed the Equity Scorecard—a process for using inquiry to drive changes in institutional practice and culture. Since its founding, CUE has worked with thousands of college professionals— from presidents to faculty to academic counselors, helping them take steps in their daily work to reverse the impact of the historical and structural disadvantages that prevent many students of color from excelling in higher education. The innovative Equity Scorecard process takes a strengths-based approach starting from the premise that faculty and administrators are committed to doing “the good.” CUE builds upon this premise by developing tools and processes that empower these professionals as “researchers” into their own practices, with the ultimate goal of not just marginal changes in policy or practice, but shifts on those campuses towards cultures of inclusion and broad ownership over racial equity.
Professor Bensimon’s critical action research agenda has been supported by grants from the Ford Foundation, Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation, Lumina Foundation, Teagle Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and The James Irvine Foundation.