About the Session

Wednesday, March 14
9:45am – 10:45am
Convention Center, Assembly Hall
Higher Ed Live: Contested Issues

Join Higher Ed Live hosts Heather Shea and Tony Doody as they moderate five fast paced, eight minute, one-on-one debates between legendary thought leaders in student affairs.

The session will explore controversial topics in higher education. The session will include feedback from the live audience and twitter.

Debate Topics

  • Quantitative Research is Superior to Qualitative Research (Gavin Henning vs. Darby Roberts)
  • Student Affairs Administrators Must Be Activists (Willie Banks vs. Ebelia Hernandez)
  • Drinking Age Should Be Lowered to 18 (Dan Morrison vs. Alan Acosta)
  • Institutions Should Require Undergraduates to Take a Diversity Course (Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher vs. Alex Lange)
  • Student Affairs Work is Practical, not Educational (Craig Elliott vs. Darren Pierre)

Get Connected

Stay connected throughout the conference and during the session with #ACPA18 and #higheredlive. Follow @higheredlive on Twitter for debate updates and more!



Tony Doody
Senior Director of Student Engagement
Rutgers University


Heather Shea
Assistant Director, RISE
HALE PhD Candidate
Michigan State University

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Matthew Ferguson
Senior Learning Manager for Amazon

Debate Speakers

Alan Acosta
Associate Dean of Students
Florida State University

Alan Acosta is an Associate Dean of Students at Florida State University (FSU), supervising the Office of New Student and Family Programs and the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. His work includes managing campus and student crises, collaborating with campus partners, and helping create a safe, welcoming campus community.

Alan has been involved in ACPA – College Student Educators International for over 10 years. He is currently the Chair of ACPA’s Commission for Student Conduct and Legal Issues and an ACPA Foundation Trustee. Previously, Alan was the coordinator for ACPA’s Voices of Inclusion medallions and a directorate body member of the Standing Committee for Graduate Students and New Professionals. Alan was also named a Co-Editor of the upcoming book Conduct and Community: A Residence Life Practitioner’s Guide, a collaboration between the Association of College and University Housing Officers – International and the Association for Student Conduct Administration, due out in 2018.

Alan is an energetic, passionate practitioner who cares about the growth of the professionals and students with which he works. He believes in the necessity of growing college students into ethical global leaders for the future, and he thrives on weaving diversity and inclusion into the work he does.

Sara Caroline Furr
Dean of Students
School of Social Service Administration
The University of Chicago

Dr Sara Caroline Furr is the Dean of Students at University of Chicago’s School of School of Social Service Administration. She brings to a sensitivity to social justice issues, hands-on experience in equity and diversity practices, and substantial student engagement, communication, and interaction. In addition, her higher education management skills, strategic planning experience, and proactive approach make her a superb asset to our senior management team. Most recently, Sara served as the Director of DePaul’s Center for Identity, Inclusion and Social Change, where she was responsible for diversity and social justice education initiatives, cultural programming, support to cultural student organizations, and identity-conscious leadership development. Her previous experience includes positions as Assistant Director at DePaul’s Office of Multicultural Student Success; Director, Office of Intercultural Development at Mount St. Mary’s University (Emmitsburg, MD); Associate Director for Judicial Affairs at Fordham University; and Assistant Director, Office of Student Life at Loyola University Maryland (Baltimore, MD).

Sara has a BA degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an MEd in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of South Carolina at Columbia, and an MA in Liberal Studies from Loyola University Maryland (Baltimore, MD). She recently received a PhD in Higher Education from Loyola University Chicago.

Craig Elliott
Assistant Vice President of Enrollment and Student Services &
Assistant Professor
Samuel Merritt University

Dr. Craig Elliott serves as the Assistant Vice President of Enrollment and Student Services and Assistant Professor at Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, CA. Craig’s research interests explore white caucus work, feminism and masculinity, the intersection of Transformative Learning and Social Justice work, inclusion and equity, and institutional change.  Craig is part of the editorial collective for Rad Dad, a zine on feminist and social justice parenting, which has published three anthologies. He has also contributed chapters on feminism, fathering, co-authored an article on the transformative nature of medical missions, and an article on institutional barriers to inclusion and equity. Craig has presented numerous programs at the local and national level on equity, inclusion, social justice, and leadership, and has served in a variety of leadership capacities. Notably, Craig has been elected Vice President for ACPA, and serves on the Foundation Board. He is a Social Justice Training Institute alumnus, serves on the faculty with Student SJTI, and is a Co-Lead facilitator for the LeaderShape Institute.

Gavin Henning 
Professor of Higher Education at New England College in New Hampshire

Gavin Henning is Professor of Higher Education at New England College in New Hampshire where he directs three graduate higher education programs including the Doctorate of Education program. A national leader in higher education, Gavin serves as President of the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) and is a past president of ACPA – College Student Educators International. He has 20 years’ experience in higher education assessment and institutional research and frequently consults and presents regionally, nationally, and internationally on the topic of higher education assessment. His scholarship includes 80 peer-reviewed presentations and over 80 invited presentations and keynotes regarding. In addition, he has published articles and books on assessment including Student Affairs Assessment: Theory and Practice (2016, Stylus) with Darby Roberts that serves as the foundational text for assessment courses in many higher education graduate programs. Gavin earned his Ph.D. in Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of New Hampshire.

Ebelia Hernández
Associate Professor
Rutgers University

Dr. Hernández’s research agenda centers on the Latino college student experience. She is particularly interested in how their experiences and the ways that they get involved may influence their holistic development. She has approached her work in a variety of ways that includes historical research and the use of critical race theory as a theoretical perspective. This work has led to publications and presentations at national conferences in the areas of Latino college student activism, spirituality, self-authorship, and engagement.

Alex C. Lange
PhD Student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs Program
University of Iowa

Alex C. Lange, M.Ed. (pronouns: they/them/their) is currently a PhD student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program at the University of Iowa. Alex has worked in a variety of functional areas, including multicultural/LGBTQ student services, student affairs operations, leadership education, and residence life. Their professional and research interests include how students make meaning of their dominant identities and internalized dominance, the strategies of success for students minoritized by their gender, race, sexuality, and ability, and using overlapping critical and poststructural frameworks to complicate student development. Alex has a Masters of Education in College Student Affairs Administration from the University of Georgia and a Bachelor’s of Arts in Law and American Society from the Wilkes Honors College at Florida Atlantic University.

Dan Morrison
Executive Director of Residence Life
Rutgers University

Currently serving as Executive Director of Residence Life at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Dan oversees the largest collegiate housing program in the United States, with 16,000+ residents in 50 halls and complexes. He supervises 75 professional, 30 graduate students, and 300 Resident Assistants. At Rutgers, his portfolio includes Residence Life, Conduct, Living-Learning Programs, Training and Development, Diversity and Inclusion Programs, Assessment and Research, Leadership and Student Governance, Assignments, Conference Services, Operations, and Student Support. Within the ACPA family, Dan served as 2003 Professional Development chair for GCPA (Georgia College Personnel Association), was the Program Chair for the 2004 GCPA Annual Conference, and was elected to the GCPA executive board as Secretary in 2005. He served as President-Elect, President and Past President for 2009-2011. He is active within ACPA (American College Personnel Association), having served on two Commission Directorates as membership chair (Student Involvement and Assessment for Student Development), as well as Pre-Convention Workshops chair for the D.C. 2000 Annual Convention, Local Arrangements (Volunteers, Hospitality, Disability Support) chair for Nashville 2005, Convention Program Chair for Atlanta 2008 and Marketing Chair for Indianapolis 2014. Dan serves on the Board of Trustees of the ACPA Foundation, where he was secretary 2014-2016 and chaired the Strategic Planning Initiative of the Board. In 2013, Dan was named an ACPA Diamond Honoree.

Darren Pierre
Clinical Assistant Professor of Higher Education
Loyola University Chicago

Dr. Darren Pierre is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Higher Education at Loyola University Chicago. Dr. Pierre’s teaching is focused on college student development, student affairs profession, and leadership within higher education. He carries years of experience as a university administrator, a leader within the field of higher education, and a contributor to many entity groups affiliated with higher education. He has authored journal articles, and in 2015, authored the book, The Invitation to Love: Recognizing the Gift Despite Pain, Fear, and Resistance.  He has spoken nationally on the ideals of leadership, integrity, and authenticity. .  As an educator,  his work, scholarship, and service are guided by the  Dr. Maya Angelou quote, “the ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” Darren earned his Bachelor of Science from Wingate University, Masters of Arts in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, and his PhD in College Student Affairs Administration from the University of Georgia.

Darby Roberts
Director of Student Life Studies
Texas A&M University

Darby Roberts, PhD, currently serves as the Director of Student Life Studies, the student affairs assessment office, at Texas A&M University and has been in the department since 1998. In addition to her role in the Division of Student Affairs, she teaches assessment in the Student Affairs Administration and Higher Education master’s program. She has been actively involved in the NASPA Assessment, Evaluation, and Research Knowledge Community, as well as the Student Affairs Assessment Leaders organization. In 2016, she co-authored Student Affairs Assessment: Theory to Practice and co-edited Assessing Student Leadership, a monograph in the New Directions for Student Leadership series. She also co-edited Learning is Not a Sprint: Assessing and documenting student leader learning in cocurricular involvement. In the past several years, Darby has also contributed chapters to several books on student affairs assessment. She frequently presents at conferences and consults with campuses on their assessment needs. Darby earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in business analysis and research (management information systems), a Master of Science in human resources management, and a Doctor of Philosophy in educational administration, all from Texas &AM University.

Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher
Community College Research and Leadership
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher is Professor of Higher Education/Community College Leadership in the Department of Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is also director of the Office for Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL). She holds a PhD in Higher Education Administration with a specialization in Community College Leadership and Educational Evaluation from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her teaching, research, and consulting activities largely include psychosocial adjustment and transition of marginalized collegians, transfer, access policies, student development and services at community colleges. Dr. Zamani-Gallaher is a recipient of the Council for the Study of Community Colleges (CSCC) Senior Scholar Award, is an ACPA Diamond Honoree and the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) Council on Ethnic Participation Mildred B. Garcia Senior Exemplary Scholarship Awardee. Dr. Zamani-Gallaher served as president of the Council for the Study of Community Colleges (CSCC), an affiliate of the American Association of Community Colleges and currently is Director for Research and Scholarship for the American College Personnel Association (ACPA). Dr. Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher research has been published in various journals and scholarly texts, including Equity and Excellence in Education, Higher Education Policy, and New Directions for Student Affairs. She has authored/edited seven books. Her most recent titles include Working with Students in Community Colleges: Contemporary Strategies for Bridging Theory, Research, and Practice (ACPA/Stylus Publishing), ASHE Reader Series on Community Colleges, Fourth Edition (Pearson Publications), and The Obama Administration and Educational Reform (Emerald Group Publishing). Prior to joining the College of Education at Illinois, she previously held appointments as a faculty member at Eastern Michigan University and West Virginia University. Zamani-Gallaher was a former fellow at ACT, Inc. and Mathematica Policy Research Institute in Washington, DC. Dr. Zamani-Gallaher is Past-President of the Council for the Study of Community Colleges and is Director for Research and Scholarship for the American Association of Personnel Administrators. She currently serves as principal investigator for the Illinois Community College Board projects and PI for the National Science Foundation LSAMP funded Transfer and the Undergraduate STEM Pipeline at Two-year Hispanic Serving Institutions research. In addition, she is PI of NSF-IUSE Collaborative Research: Transitioning Learners to Calculus in Community Colleges (TLC3): Advancing Strategies for Success in STEM with colleagues Helen Burn, Vilma Mesa, and J. Luke Wood.