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Educational Leadership program hires two new faculty members with expertise in antiracism

Eureka Hall, home of Sacramento State's College of Education. (Sacramento State/Hrach Avetisyan)

Sacramento State’s Doctorate in Educational Leadership program has hired two new faculty members whose courses, research, and community work will focus on antiracist leadership.

Elizabeth Morgan and Sheeva Sabati are among the first in the nation who will explicitly focus on antiracist leadership in education, said Ed.D. Director Vajra Watson.

Elizabeth Morgan. (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Morgan)

They will this fall join a College of Education and University that have recommitted to confronting racism and increasing belonging on campus, most recently through development of an Antiracism and Inclusive Campus Plan, which outlines specific steps to address and ameliorate discrimination and inequity at Sac State.

The college, which conducted a national search and received hundreds of applications, originally planned only one hire, Watson said. However, the college was able to secure funding for both of its top candidates, reflecting its commitment to the University’s antiracism work.

“The college has continued to make it a priority to take President (Robert S.) Nelsen’s call to become an antiracist campus,” Watson said.

“Having this level of expertise is going to help us, both as a leadership team and a full college, be critical of our own curriculum, consciousness, and commitments.”

Watson said the goal is to move “beyond performative racial justice.”

Sabati and Morgan will bring to their courses an expertise in important issues such as critical race theory and systemic injustices in education.

The community and region also will feel their impact, Watson said. Sabati and Morgan are Sacramento natives returning to their hometown from UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz, respectively, and already are deeply involved in community service and community-based research. They will continue that work as Sac State faculty.

They also will build on the work of College of Education faculty to “move the campus toward greater systems of equity,” Watson said.

The hiring committee did not look specifically to hire faculty with local roots, but Watson said doing so has an added benefit.

“Local knowledge and local connections really do matter, and when we think about the way to sustain work over time, our relationship to community is key,” she said.

Sheeva Sabati (Photo courtesy of Sheeva Sabati)

Sabati earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Santa Clara University in 2006 and her master’s and doctorate in 2014 and 2019, respectively, from UC Santa Cruz, where she also taught. Her research interests include critical race and ethnic studies, as well as antiracist feminism as key approaches to understanding and addressing inequities in U.S. schools.

Having previously taught undergraduate, master’s, and teaching credential students, Sabati said she is excited about teaching Ed.D. students who already are or are working toward becoming school leaders and who have experience in K-12 and college settings.

“I’m really looking forward to working with Ed.D. students, fellow colleagues really, to be thinking about what it means to grow antiracist education leadership across the different contexts that people are working within,” Sabati said.

Morgan also is returning to her hometown, though from just across the causeway. She earned her doctorate at UC Davis this spring, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Xavier University of Louisiana and a master’s degree from Harvard.

Her research focuses in large part on the intersection of race and disability in education, and her dissertation explored how Black mothers navigate special education. It’s a personal topic as well as an academic one for Morgan, herself a Black mother with a child on the autism spectrum.

Research demonstrates, Morgan said, that educational institutions are a key part of socialization, not only educating and informing but also conveying the values and norms of society.

“Higher education has an outstanding responsibility because we are the institutions that are teaching teachers, and thus, what and how we teach matters,” she said. “Sac State and the College of Education’s commitment to antiracist practice is crucial and will help make the change our city needs. And I am proud to be a part of the movement.”

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About Jonathan Morales

Jonathan Morales joined the Sac State communications team in 2017 as a writer and editor. He previously worked at San Francisco State University and as a newspaper reporter and editor. He enjoys local beer, Bay Area sports teams, and spending time outdoors with his family and dog.

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