HESA Core Faculty
To visit faculty profiles, please click on their names.
Tracy Arámbula Turner, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Tracy.Turner@uvm.edu | Phone: (802) 656-4124 | Office: 210C Mann Hall
Dr. Tracy Arámbula Turner (she/hers, published under Dr. Tracy Arámbula Ballysingh from 2012-2022) is an Associate Professor and Program Coordinator for the Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration (HESA) Program in the Department of Education at the University of Vermont (UVM). As faculty, she teaches an HCOL Sophomore Seminar on (In)equality in P-16 American Education, and masters level courses in Higher Education Organization and Administration and Higher Education Law.
Dr. Arámbula Turner’s research focuses on higher education access and success for historically marginalized communities. A qualitative P-16 educational access and completion scholar, her work explores the socio- historical systems, structures, policies, and cultural contexts that preclude or promote achievement for 1st generation, low-income, and/or students of color. In particular, she examines 1) Pre-college contexts, including PK-12 experiences and socio/ familial environments; 2) Postsecondary experiences, including 1st year transition, college contexts, campus climate, institutional type, academic support, and curricular approaches; and 3) Socio- historical contexts, including systems that shape opportunity structures, reproduce or remedy social stratification, and institutional, state, and federal policy contexts.
Dr. Arámbula Turner’s scholarship has been published in multiple peer-reviewed outlets, including Review of Educational Research, Harvard Educational Review, Professional School Counseling, College Student Affairs Journal, Journal of School Leadership, The School Community Journal, School Psychology Review, Improving Schools, International Journal of Research & Method in Education, International Journal of Student Voice, Association for Mexican American Educators Journal, the Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, and New Directions for Institutional Research. She has contributed book chapters in two edited volumes, including: Ensuring the Success of Latino Males in Higher Education: A National Imperative (2016) by Stylus Publishing and Latinx in Higher Education, and Exploring Identity, Pathways and Success (2018) by the National Association for Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA).
Dr. Arámbula Turner is active with the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE), having been named a Graduate Fellow in 2009, 2010, and 2011 and a Faculty Fellow for 2019. She is also engaged as a scholar with the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) and the American Educational Research Association (AERA). She is a member of the advisory board of the UVM Legal Issues in Higher Education Conference, a connected faculty for Project CORE (Community based participatory research and Restorative practices in Education), and an affiliate faculty for the UVM NSF ADVANCE Project. She has served as a faculty affiliate for Project M.A.L.E.S. (Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success) based at The University of Texas at Austin since 2016. She serves on the editorial boards of the Review of Educational Research, Journal of Higher Education and the Journal of the First-Year Experience & Students in Transition.
Dr. Arámbula Turner is the 2020 recipient of the NASPA Region I Outstanding Contribution to Literature and/or Research Award and the UVM CESS John Dewey Educator’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and the 2021 recipient of the NASPA Latinx/a/o Knowledge Community Outstanding Faculty Award.
As a proud mami-scholar of two children navigating the Vermont K-12 school system, a first-generation college graduate, and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, Tracy advocates for educational justice in her personal and professional life.
Jason Garvey, Ph.D., Friedman-Hipps Green and Gold Professor of Education
email@example.com | Phone: (802) 656-5107 | Office: 210B Mann Hall
Dr. Jason C. Garvey (he/him/his) is the Friedman-Hipps Green and Gold Professor of Education for the Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration program at the University of Vermont. He is on sabbatical leave for the 2022-2023 academic year.
Jay’s scholarship, teaching, and service are closely tied to his educational journey as a queer person. His research examines queer and trans collegians across educational contexts primarily using quantitative methods. In 2020, Jay launched Queer and Trans People in Education (QTPiE), a multi-institutional research team with a mission to educate, advocate, and build coalitions that advance equitable policies and practices for queer and trans people in education. Please visit the QTPiE website for more information.
Jay often frames his scholarship through critical cultural perspectives, including intersectionality and queer theory, and he foregrounds salient experiences for queer and trans collegians, including identity development, retention, campus climate, and belonging. Jay proudly identifies as a quantitative queer, navigating the borders of post-positivistic quantitative methods and post-structural queerness. He aims to critically interrogate the methodological challenges and opportunities for studying sexuality and gender, clarifying the routinely invisible nature of queer and trans students in survey design and quantitative methods.
As a public scholar, Jay has collaborated with local and national organizations to promote positive social change for queer and trans collegians, including the Pride Center of Vermont, Campus Pride, ACPA, the Spencer Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He currently serves as the Executive Associate Editor for the Journal of College Student Development and recently guest-edited a special issue for the Journal of College Student Retention on queer and trans collegians.
In recognition of his scholarly achievements, Jay received UVM’s Joseph A. Abruscato Award for Excellence in Research & Scholarship, ACPA’s Emerging Scholar Award, and the American Educational Research Association’s Queer Studies Scholar-Activist Dissertation of the Year Award.
Prior to his faculty appointments, Jay worked in college student services across a variety of functional areas, including queer and trans student involvement and advocacy, student affairs assessment, residential life, academic advising, and undergraduate research. He received his PhD in College Student Personnel Administration from the University of Maryland with a certificate in Measurement, Statistics, and Evaluation.
Brittany ("Brit") Williams, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Brittany.Williams@uvm.edu | Phone: (802) 656-3424 | Office: 210D Mann Hall
Brittany “Brit” M. Williams, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration (HESA) Program in the Department of Education at the University of Vermont (UVM). She primarily teaches courses on student development theory, college student in campus contexts, and organizational theory.
Dr. Williams’ research and teaching expertise broadly examine issues of (in)equity. Specifically, she examines issues of (in)equity within three major areas: 1) social class disparities and their impact on higher education access and completion; (2) career development, workplace retention, and supervision concerns; and (3) the nexus of education and health, with a specific focus on HIV/AIDS in college contexts. She broaches these areas of inquiry using critical, identity-conscious approaches, most commonly grounding her work in the experiences of first-generation college students, Black women and girls, and low-income students. Dr. Williams’ research has been published in numerous academic journals including the Review of Higher Education, Journal of Women and Gender, Higher Education Research and Development, BMC Women’s Health, Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, and Journal of College Student Development. In 2021, she co-edited a Special Issue of the highly coveted New Directions in Student Services series entitled, Supervision in Student Affairs: Approaches and Tensions in Today’s Workplaces.
As a 2022 National Academy of Education (NAEd)/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Williams studyies Black college women and HIV/AIDS in Metro-Atlanta. Her personal advocacy and public scholarship have appeared in and by AIDS United, National Public Radio, Teach for America, the National Black Women’s Health Imperative, the White House Initiatives for HBCUs, and the National Minority Aids Council.
Dr. Williams received the 2021 Robert H. Shaffer Award for Academic Excellence as a Graduate Faculty Member from the Region IV-E contingent of NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. She was also awarded the 2022 ACPA: College Student Educators International Association’s “Outstanding Mentor to Graduate Students” award from the Graduate Students and New Professionals-Community of Practice. Most recently, she received the 2023 Early Career Award from the Faculty Council of NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, and the 2023 Research and Scholarship Award from the Coalition of Women’s Identities, ACPA: College Student Educators International. She will serve as keynote speaker at the 2023 ACPA: College Student Educators International annual convention.
Prior to joining the professoriate, Dr. Williams served in housing and residence life, career services, academic affairs, and student engagement. Originally from Southwest Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Williams obtained her Ph.D. in College Student Affairs Administration and Graduate Certificate in Qualitative Research from the University of Georgia. She holds her bachelor's and master’s degree from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, and Teachers College-Columbia University in New York City, respectively. She is a proud product of Atlanta Public Schools.
Tiffanie Spencer, Ph.D., Instructor and Director for Diversity and Community Engagement
Tiffanie.Spencer@uvm.edu | Phone: (802) 656-7880 | Office: Waterman 442-B
Dr. Spencer currently serves as the Director for Diversity and Community Engagement in the College of Education and Social Services (CESS). Her role provides leadership in facilitating community partnerships to expand diversity initiatives for the college, with emphasis on collaborating with local and national organizations, as well as on-campus colleagues to develop accessible pathways for University of Vermont students, faculty, and staff from historically underrepresented backgrounds. She also serves as an instructor and affiliate faculty member of the Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) Master’s program.
Prior to joining the UVM community, Dr. Spencer earned a doctorate from the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Georgia. During her time there she worked with the Georgia College Advising Corps, an institutional partner of a national nonprofit that trains recent college undergraduates to assist students at underserved high schools with their postsecondary search and selection process. Her research interests align with much of recent work, which focuses on examining transition pathways and experiences of first generation, low-income, and underrepresented students from secondary to postsecondary educational opportunities.
Prior to her time at the University of Georgia, Dr. Spencer has devoted much of her profession to higher education student affairs work in capacities including Residence Life, Student Conduct, Student Organization advisement, as well as student advising as part of an empowerment and retention program focused on working with underrepresented student populations. Dr. Spencer received her Master of Education in Higher Education Management with a concentration in Student Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at the University of Notre Dame.
Melissa Rocco, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer
Melissa.Rocco@uvm.edu | Office: Mann Hall
At the core of Dr. Rocco’s work is her desire to help individuals identify, develop, and engage their capacity for change-making. Her research, teaching, and practice focus on the application of transformative and liberatory pedagogy to challenge dominant leadership narratives and center identity, equity, and justice in leadership education. She primarily teaches courses on leadership and identity, social action and change, learning and curriculum design, developmental theory, and practica in higher education.
Dr. Rocco’s professional and scholarly contributions include roles as Faculty Associate and Director for the National Clearinghouse for Leadership Programs (NCLP), Impact Fellow with The Aspen Institute’s Leadership Development Index, and national representative to the Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS) in higher education. She is also co-author of the National Leadership Education Research Agenda 2020-2025, issue editor and author for New Directions for Student Leadership, and contributor and reviewer for some of the most widely-used texts in graduate and undergraduate leadership education.
Prior to her faculty appointments, Dr. Rocco worked as a higher education administrator in functional areas including co-curricular leadership programs, student activities, academic advising, and fraternity and sorority life. She received her PhD in Higher Education, Student Affairs, and International Education Policy from the University of Maryland.