Dr. Liliana M. Garces

Dr. Liliana M. Garces
Phone: 8148659754
Office Address:
405C Rackley Building
University Park, PA 16802
Campus: University Park


Associate Professor of Education (Higher Education) & Senior Research Associate
Affiliate Penn State Law Faculty


Education Policy Studies


Center for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE)
Center for Education and Civil Rights


Higher Education


Liliana M. Garces is Associate Professor of Higher Education at Pennsylvania State University and Affiliate Faculty at Pennsylvania State Law School. She is co-director of the Center for Education and Civil Rights and research associate in the Center for the Study of Higher Education. She teaches courses on higher education law, diversity and equity in higher education, and education policy and politics.

Dr. Garces’s research, focused on the dynamics of law and education, seeks to inform policies and practices that address inequities in education.  Her research employs quantitative, qualitative, and legal research methods and draws from frameworks in 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 fields of study and the profession of medicine, institutional responses to court cases and laws addressing race-conscious admissions policies, and the use of social science research in education-related cases.  Her work has been funded by the Spencer Foundation, the William T. Grant Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the W.E. Upjohn Institute.

Her publications include various peer-reviewed articles in American Educational Research Journal, American Journal of Education, Educational Researcher, Educational Policy, Journal of Higher Education, Review of Higher Education, Urban Review, as well as law journals and two co-edited volumes.  Her work has been featured nationally in National Public Radio, The New York Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed., and other media outlets. Her article, “Understanding the impact of affirmative action bans in different graduate fields of study” won the American Educational Research Association’s Palmer O. Johnson Memorial Award as a contribution of outstanding importance to education research in 2013. In 2015, she received the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) Early Career Award.

Dr. Garces’s work also links scholarship with practice by communicating research findings to inform legal cases in education. To this end, she has served as legal counsel to the education community in the filing of four amicus curiae briefs in 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 served as counsel of record for the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at the University of California, Los Angeles, in an amicus 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). She most recently represented 823 social scientists in a second amicus brief filed in the Fisher case.

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. 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.

Areas of Expertise

Age Levels


Education Levels


Educational Studies


Higher Education

Higher Education
Higher Education Administration

Leadership Preparation

Educational Leadership
Higher Education Leadership


Education Access
Equity and Diversity

Methodological Research

Multiple Methods
Qualitative Research
Quantitative Research

Organizational Management

Management & Leadership

Social Issues

Civil Rights and Education
Education and Law
Education Policy
Race and Ethnicity
Social Issues

Courses Taught

Education Policy and Politics

Legal Issues in Higher Education

Race, Law and Education

Office Hours

Thursdays 3-5pm

Education History

Ed.D., Harvard Graduate School of Education; J.D., University of Southern California School of Law; B.A., Brown University.

Representative Publications

Garces, L.M. (2015). Balancing liberty and equality: Justice Kennedy’s decisive vote in Fisher v. University of Texas, Part II. Educational Researcher, 44(8), 442-447.

Garces, L. M., & Cogburn, C. D.* (2015). Beyond declines in student body diversity: How campus-level administrators understand a prohibition on race-conscious postsecondary admissions policies. American Educational Research Journal, 52(5), 828-860.

Garces, L. M., & Mickey-Pabello, D. (2015). Racial diversity in the medical profession: The impact of affirmative action bans on underrepresented student of color matriculation in medical schoolsThe Journal of Higher Education, 86(2), 264-294.

Garces, L.M. (2014). Aligning diversity, quality, and equity: The implications of legal and public policy developments for promoting racial diversity in graduate studies. American Journal of Education, 120(4), 457-480.

Garces, L.M., & Jayakumar, U. (2014). Dynamic diversity: Toward a contextual understanding of critical mass. Educational Researcher, 43(3), 115-124.

Garces, L.M. (2013). Understanding the impact of affirmative action bans in different fields of graduate studies. American Educational Research Journal, 50(2), 251-284.

Garces, L.M. (2013). Reflections on a collaboration: Communicating education research in Fisher. Educational Researcher, 42(3), 174-175. 

Garces, L.M. (2013).  Social science research and the courts: Considering post-Grutter v. Bollinger developments in higher education cases. Educational Policy, 27(4), 591-614.

Garces, L.M. (2012). Racial diversity, legitimacy and the citizenry: The impact of affirmative action bans on graduate school enrollment. Review of Higher Education, 36(1), 93-132.

Garces, L.M. (2012). Necessary but not sufficient: The impact of Grutter v. Bollinger on student of color enrollment in graduate and professional schools in Texas. Journal of Higher Education, 83(4), 497-534.

Frankenberg, E. & Garces, L.M. (2008). The use of social science evidence in Parents Involved and Meredith: Implications for researchers and schools. University of Louisville Law Review, 46(4), 703-751.

Orfield, G., Frankenberg, E., and Garces, L.M. (2008). Statement of American social scientists of research on school desegregation to the U.S. Supreme Court in Parents v. Seattle School District and Meredith v. Jefferson County. The Urban Review, 40(1), 96-136.


2014-2016. William T. Grant Foundation, “Amici and the Courts: A Case Study of the Research Use Process of Intermediary Actors” (Co-Investigator with Patricia Marin, Catherine Horn, Karen Miksch, and John Yun)  ($398,752).

2014-2015. Paul and Marjorie Price Family Endowment for Faculty Enhancement, Pennsylvania State University ($3,100).

2012-2014. W.E. Upjohn Institute Early Career Grant. “Understanding the Impact of Affirmative Action Bans in Medical Schools” ($5,000).

2010-2011. Spencer Foundation. Dissertation Fellowship ($25,000).

Activities and Honors

2015. Promising Scholar/Early Career Award. Association for the Study of Higher Education.

2014. Palmer O. Johnson Memorial Award (best article in 2013). American Educational Research Association.

Editorial Board Member, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, The Journal of Higher EducationThe Review of Higher Education, Curriculum Inquiry.

Bar Admissions: U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third, Sixth, Ninth and Tenth Circuits, State of California, and the District of Columbia.