Liliana Garces Bio
Liliana M. Garces is an Assistant Professor in the Higher Education Program and a Research Associate in the Center for the Study of Higher Education at The Pennsylvania State University. Before joining Penn State, she taught at the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at the George Washington University and completed a post-doctorate fellowship at the National Poverty Center in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. She teaches courses on education policy and politics, higher education law, and race, law, and education.
Dr. Garces’s research, focused on the dynamics of law and education, seeks to inform policies and practices that address inequities in education. Her work employs quantitative, qualitative and legal research methods, and draws from frameworks in law, economics, sociology, and political science, engaging in interdisciplinary research that can more effectively tackle the complex nature of educational inequality, both in K-12 and higher education. She has written on the impact of affirmative action bans on the representation of students of color in graduate and medical schools, institutional responses to court cases and laws regarding race-conscious admissions policies, and the use of social science research in education-related cases. In one of her current projects, she is investigating how amici curiae (friends-of-the-court), use social science research to inform education-related U.S. Supreme Court cases. Her research has been funded by the William T. Grant Foundation, the W.E. Upjohn Institute, the Spencer Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. In 2014, she was awarded the Palmer O. Johnson Memorial Award in recognition of an article of outstanding importance to education research. Her research has been published in the American Educational Research Journal, American Journal of Education, Journal of Higher Education, Educational Policy, Review of Higher Education, Urban Review, and law journals.
Dr. Garces’s work also seeks to bridge research and policy by communicating research findings to inform legal cases in education. To this end, she has represented hundreds of social science researchers who have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in two separate U.S. Supreme Court cases: she authored briefs on behalf of 444 social science researchers in the affirmative action case, Fisher v. University of Texas (2013), and on behalf of 553 social scientists in the K-12 voluntary desegregation cases, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 & Meredith v. Jefferson County (2007). She most recently served as counsel of record for the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at the University of California, Los Angeles, in a friend-of-the court brief filed in a challenge to the constitutionality of an affirmative action ban in Michigan, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, et al. (2014).
Prior to becoming a faculty member in higher education, Dr. Garces worked as a civil rights lawyer and a judicial law clerk in federal district court. She holds a doctorate in education from Harvard University, a juris doctor from the University of Southern California School of Law, and a bachelor of arts from Brown University.