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Lorelle Espinosa

Lorelle Espinosa

Vice President for Research, Vice President for Research

Specialization: Diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education; STEM education; minority serving institutions

Lorelle L. Espinosa is the vice president for research at ACE. In this role, she is responsible for developing the organization’s thought leadership and research agenda and for ensuring a consistent evidence base across ACE’s array of programs and services. With more than 20 years of experience in higher education practice, policy, and research, Espinosa is a national voice on issues pertaining to college access and success for diverse populations and on the role of equity-minded leadership in postsecondary settings.

Her current research includes a three-year grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to examine race and ethnicity in higher education, and multiple collaborations with scholars from around the country to translate important academic research for policy and practitioner audiences. The latter includes a groundbreaking 2018 report on lessons learned from the University of Missouri’s 2015-16 racial crisis and the campus’s road to recovery.

During her time at ACE, Espinosa’s work also includes leading and publishing a seminal study examining how legal challenges to race-conscious policies influence contemporary admissions practices at selective colleges around the country, which was cited in several amicus briefs to the United States Supreme Court and advanced understanding of diversity-focused policy and law. Subsequent work examined the role of leadership in campus racial climate and on the tension between campus inclusion and freedom of expression, leading to national dialogue on the role of presidential and cabinet-level leadership in these critical areas.​​​​​​

Espinosa has contributed opinion and scholarly works to peer-reviewed journals, academic volumes, and industry magazines, including the Harvard Educational Review, Research in Higher Education, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, CNN.com, and ACE’s HigherEdToday.org. Her work has been supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lumina Foundation, TIAA Institute, National Institutes of Health, and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, among others.

She is co-chair of the National Academies study committee, Closing the Equity Gap: Revitalizing STEM Education and Workforce Readiness Programs in the Nation’s Minority-Serving Institutions​," and serves on the national boards of College Possible and the American Youth Policy Forum. Espinosa has held leadership roles in the Association for the Study of Higher Education and the American Educational Research Association, and she is a research affiliate of the University of Southern California’s Pullias Center for Higher Education.

A Pell Grant recipient and first-generation college graduate, Espinosa earned her Ph.D. in higher education and organizational change from the University of California, Los Angeles; her bachelor of arts from the University of California, Davis; and her associate of arts from Santa Barbara City College.