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Sunday, January 29, 2023

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Frank Harris III (left), professor in postsecondary educational leadership and interim associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, and J. Luke Wood, Dean’s Distinguished Professor of Education Frank Harris III (left), professor in postsecondary educational leadership and interim associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, and J. Luke Wood, Dean’s Distinguished Professor of Education
 


Two SDSU Professors Ranked Nationally Among Most Influential Education Scholars

J. Luke Wood and Frank Harris III are widely known for their collaborative work to advance racial equity in education.
By Michael Klitzing
 

The names J. Luke Wood and Frank Harris III have been inextricably linked for more than a decade. The San Diego State University professors have been fruitful collaborators on research into racial equity in education since 2011 — work they have amplified as co-founders of SDSU’s Community College Equity Assessment Lab.

Now, the duo shares another notable distinction. On Jan. 5, Wood and Harris both appeared in the 2023 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings: 200 U.S. university-based scholars who shape educational practice and policy. The list represents the top 1% of influential education scholars in the nation from a field of over 20,000.

“The people who are on that list are the best in the country in our field — the most well-known, the most widely-cited, the folks legislatures and politicians are consulting for advice,” said Harris, a professor in postsecondary educational leadership who also serves as interim associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion in the College of Education.

“I just appreciate being listed among those folks — including Luke.”

Wood ranked No. 48 and Harris No. 163 on the list, compiled annually by Education Week. This ranking uses metrics such as book publishing, article citations and mentions in the media and Congressional Record. In the Curriculum, Instruction and Administration subfield, Wood was ranked No. 10 in the nation.

While 64 universities had at least one ranked scholar, SDSU is one of 32 universities nationwide, and only six in California, with multiple faculty members recognized.  

“One of the things that I think we both recognized early on was that you can publish something, but it doesn't mean that a lot of people are going to see it, and it doesn't mean that it's going to impact practice,” said Wood, Dean’s Distinguished Professor of Education at SDSU. “We’ve been able to publish some really good work, but we also do a lot of webinars and policy work to help people tangibly apply it to change lives. I think that we recognize that you have to have that combination. And I think that's part of why the rankings were where they were for us.”

Wood is also the university’s vice president for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity and chief diversity officer.

In the past year, Harris and Wood have led programming on racial equity for the Association of Community College Trustees and the Community College League of California.

Their research as part of the Black Minds Matter Coalition also inspired a new California law, which went into effect this month, protecting foster youth in suspension and expulsion proceedings. AB 740 was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September 2022.  

They also recently conducted a popular webinar series on racelighting, a phenomenon in which people of color are systematically manipulated into second-guessing their own lived experiences with racism. They collaborated with their partners — San Diego College of Continuing Education president Tina King and SDSU assistant professor Idara Essien — to create a lesson plan on the subject.

“I think it’s important that your work is not just sitting on the shelf,” Harris said. “It's actually having an impact on what people do and how they serve students and teach students.”