Gardner P. Seminar on Higher Education


Applications for 2024-2025 will be accepted between May 1 - June 15, 2024. They should include:

  • Cover letter
  • Name and contact information
  • Name of UC campus
  • Department
  • Degree program
  • Dissertation advisor
  • Projected date of completion
  • Title and Description of dissertation topic (no more than three pages)
  • Letter of endorsement from dissertation advisor (may be sent separately)
  • CV or resume
  • Indicate enrollment status for 2024-2025.

Please note that the enrollment is kept to 11 graduate students.

Questions? Please email sends e-mail) for more information.


  • "Being a Gardner Fellow was a wonderful experience for so many reasons. I learned so much from the other fellows, and I enjoyed hearing about the plethora of research being done within higher education. I'm so grateful for the Gardner Seminar and have nothing but positive things to say!" --Elizabeth Anne Martin (UCLA, 2022-23 Gardner Fellow)

  • "The Gardner Seminar was an instrumental part of my Ph.D. development because it allowed me to present my work to a wide-range audience and receive feedback from numerous UC students and faculty. It was wonderful to connect with people outside of my field and see my research through their perspectives. The feedback I received helped strengthen my skills as a scholar." --Valeria Dominguez (UC Riverside, 2022-23 Gardner Fellow)

The Gardner Fellows represent a diverse community of early career researchers in higher education within the University of California system. 

Each year, CSHE sponsors the David P. Gardner Seminar for doctoral students who are conducting hgher eductation research. Named after UC President Emeritus David P. Gardner, the seminar was expanded in 2020 beyond UC Berkeley to include applications from the entire University of California system. Representing multiple academic disciplines, these diverse Gardner Fellows form a unique community of early career researchers. This is the only forum in the University of California system for doctoral students to share their dissertation research in higher education and to learn from leading researchers and administrators in the field of higher education. 

For each session, CSHE invites diverse scholars and administrators to make presentations on key higher education topics in California, the nation and the world. Gardner Fellows hear lectures and engage with prominent education leaders from the University of California system and higher education researchers. Past speakers have included:

  • UC Regents Chair Richard Lieb, and former UC Regents Chairs Cecilia Estolano and John Perez
  • UC President Michael Drake and former UC Presidents Janet Napolitano and David Gardner
  • Former UC Provost Michael Brown
  • UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ
  • Olufemi Ogundele, Associate Vice Chancellor of Admissions and Enrollment, UC Berkeley
  • Professor Tolani Britton from the Graduate School of Education, UC Berkeley
  • Richard Arum, Professor of Sociology and Education, UC Irvine
  • Former Under Secretary for Education Martha Kanter 
  • Maresi Nerad, Director of the Center for Innovation and Research in Graduate Education (CIRGE) at the University of Washington
  • Eloy Ortiz Oakley, President and CEO, California Futures Foundation
  • William Kirby, Professor of China Studies at Harvard University and Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School
  • Henry Brady, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, Goldman Public Policy School
  • Zach Bleemer, Assistant Professor of Economics, Princeton University
  • Devon Graves, Assistant Professor, College of Education, California State University, Stanislaus

Graduate students are expected to present their own dissertation research and to provide constructive feedback to their colleagues. 

The Gardner Fellows have the opportunity to:

  • Learn from higher education scholars and administrators;
  • Gain exposure to a range of disciplines that are related to higher education;
  • Broaden understanding of different research tools and methodologies;
  • Present their own dissertation work;
  • Explore potential career paths; and
  • Create a community of early career higher education researchers


The seminar meets remotely every other week for two hours - at least 14 meetings during the academic year.


Participants in the seminar are called David P. Gardner Fellows. Upon completion of the seminar, they will receive a $3,000 stipend.