Educational Policy Studies & Practice
leslie gonzales headshot
Leslie D. Gonzales
Department Head, Educational Policy Studies & Practice

Welcome Message from Leslie Gonzales

The Department of Educational Policy Studies & Practice (EPSP) includes two programs: Educational Leadership & Policy (EDL) and the Center for the Study of Higher Education (HED). The EPSP department combines the K-12 focus with postsecondary education to create a P-20 perspective that taps into the dominant discourse of education and policymakers today.

Our directors

Dr. Leslie D. Gonzales is the director of the Center for the Study of Higher Education program and Dr. Mel Bertrand is the director of Educational Leadership & Policy program.

Benefits of the combined unit

The programs in both units, the Center for the Study of Higher Education and Educational Leadership & Policy, center on equity, inclusion, and social justice. Both units prepare students as scholars, practitioners, and activists consistent with each unit’s professional career paths and state certification standards leading to licensure. However, together, the units offer expertise across multiple PK-20 educational contexts. 

A key departmental strength concentrates on how organizations, institutions (both formal and informal), official practices, and educational professions affect outcomes across local, national, and international contexts and how these entities are affected by societal, economic, historical, and political pressures.

Our graduate degrees

EPSP prepares graduate students at the doctorate and master's levels. Graduate programs in EDL include an Ed.D. (fully online), Ph.D., and M.Ed. The M.A. degree has a focus on policy. The M.Ed. degree is a standards-driven curriculum leading to both a degree and state certification for the principalship. Graduate programs in HED include Ph.D. and M.A. degrees.

Lunch & Learn

Lunch & Learn, which we plan to resume at least once per semester once we’re back again face-to-face, is to facilitate further communication among faculty and students about a range of programmatic, professional, and academic issues, as well as to enhance community among our students.  We encourage you to come with questions, thoughts, and suggestions for us, and we may have some for you as well.

Felisia Tagaban Gaskin headshot
Felisia Tagaban Gaskin

Felisia Tagaban Gaskin ( Diné/Tlingit/Filipino) is a doctoral student in the Educational Policy Studies and Practice Department at the University of Arizona (UA). Felisia obtained her BA (Creative Writing) and Master's (Higher Education) at the University of Arizona.

Felisia is now the director for the Native SOAR (Student Outreach Access and Resiliency) service-learning course, a multigenerational mentoring program that centers the needs of American Indian/Alaska Native students throughout the K-20 educational system. Now, and in her previous role as a graduate assistant, Felicia provided culturally responsive mentoring and support services for Indigenous middle and high school students as they explored their options in higher education. A few years ago, Felisia created and submitted a proposal for a full-time staff position combining her knowledge of higher education with her experience in the K-12 setting. This new position emerged from Tagaban Gaskin’s advocacy and the support of Assistant Professor Karina Salazar, SUSD Superintendent Steve Holmes, VP of Enrollment Management Kasey Urquidez, Dean Bruce Johnson, and EPSP Department Head Regina Deil-Amen. She approached leaders at both The University of Arizona and SUSD after seeing the need for these institutions to establish educational pathways for Indigenous youth. And this is exactly what her work in this new position will entail.

Both the College and Native SOAR are thrilled for Tagaban Gaskin. Native SOAR wrote the following to reflect on the impact she has had on the College, University, and tribal communities throughout Arizona through her work with the program over the past few years:

“When Felisia came to the College of Education in the 2017-18 school year, she served as a full-time SUSD Native American Education Program student advisor and as a part-time Native SOAR coordinator, where she and Dr. Amanda Cheromiah kept the program afloat. From 2018 to July 2021, Felisia served as a Native SOAR graduate assistant. During this time, Felisia was instrumental to the institutionalization of Native SOAR.

She and students from Voices of Indigenous Concerns in Education (VOICE) created campus-wide systemic change for Indigenous UArizona students. Through Felisia and VOICE's efforts, Native SOAR received funding for operations and a director position. Additionally, Felisia served as the primary content creator for Native SOAR’s social media. She was critical to increasing the digital presence of the program in the community. Felisia also organized and participated in mentoring and community events, and school programs, which strengthened relationships with tribal communities and local school district families. We look forward to partnering with Felisia as she works with the College of Education, Admissions, and SUSD to guide and prepare Indigenous students for their journeys into and through college!”