Dr. Nancy Thomas directs the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, conducting research and working with colleges and universities to advance student political learning and participation in democracy. The Institute’s signature initiative, the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), is a large dataset for research and provides each of the 1000+ participating U.S. colleges and universities with their students’ aggregate voting rates. Her work and scholarship center on higher education’s democratic mission, campus climates for political learning and engagement, free speech and academic freedom, and deliberative democracy in the classroom, on campuses, and in communities. She is the author of multiple book chapters, articles, and the monograph, Educating for Deliberative Democracy. She is an associate editor of the Journal of Public Deliberation and a senior associate with Everyday Democracy.
Dr. Hephner LaBanc proudly serves the University of Mississippi as Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, the first woman to hold that position in the university’s history. In this role she has oversight for 15 diverse enrollment and student affairs departments. In addition to her administrative responsibilities, she also enjoys serving as a faculty member in Ole Miss’ higher education program. She is highly committed to the holistic development of all students and strives to nurture a scholar-practitioner culture in her work environment.
Dr. Hephner LaBanc’s background includes an accounting degree from the University of Akron prior to graduate study in Higher Education Administration at Kent State University. She earned her Ed.D. from Northern Illinois University (NIU). During her career, she has served students in multiple administrative roles at Arizona State University, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Baldwin-Wallace College, the University of Akron, and NIU.
Her early research focused on the preparation of student affairs professionals and transition issues for graduate students. She has published work related to campus crisis management and victim support during and after mass tragedy, as well as concealed carry legislation implications for higher education. She has now turned her attention toward the First Amendment and is working with colleagues at Ole Miss to complete a book this spring on free speech and expression on college campuses.
Among her honors and special recognitions, Hephner LaBanc was inducted into the 2013 Hall of Fame by the College of Education, Health and Human Services at Kent State University and has been recognized for her outstanding service to the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. On her own campus she was particularly honored when she received the Lift Every Voice award, a highly regarded diversity honor bestowed by colleague and student nominations.
Dr. Hephner LaBanc currently resides in Oxford, Mississippi with her partner Dave LaBanc and their lively Doberman Hank LaBanc. Although they are both Northeast Ohio natives, they have thoroughly enjoyed their move to the Southern part of the United States and enjoy being members of the Ole Miss family.
Dr. Charles H.F. Davis III is an assistant professor in the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California, where he also serves as Chief Strategy Officer and Director of Research for the USC Race and Equity Center. Dr. Davis’ scholarship broadly focuses on issues race and racism in education with a specific focus on advancing racial justice on college and university campuses and beyond. His award winning research on Black student activism in college has been recognized by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) and featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, Colorlines by Race Forward, and other national media outlets. In partnership with NASPA, Dr. Davis is currently conducting a national study on workplace climate, professional development, and the student affairs profession.
Dr. Davis is a two-time graduate of Florida State University, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a Master’s degree in Communications. As an FSU student, Charles was an active student leader within the Black Student Union, Marching Chiefs, Student Senate, and National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), for which he was awarded both NPHC Man of the Year and NPHC Chapter President of the Year awards in 2006. After graduating from Florida State, Dr. Davis earned a Master’s in Education from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and a Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education from the University of Arizona.
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