Prof Receives Grant To Study How Policies Affect Minority College Completion

Efforts are underway at Texas A&M University to discover how best to ensure equal educational opportunities for all students. A professor at Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service, Kalena Cortes, has been selected as a Greater Texas Foundation (GTF) Fellow and will receive $30,000 per year for three years to study how institutional and state policy can help make the difference.

Kalena Cortes

Kalena Cortes

“I am thrilled to have been chosen to participate in the GTF fellows program,” says Cortes. “Much of my research focuses on analyzing education policies, especially those designed to help disadvantaged students in both K-12 and postsecondary education. As part of my fellowship, I will analyze how specific institutional and legislative policies in Texas affect the opportunities for the state’s burgeoning minority population to pursue and complete a postsecondary education. The fellows program will not only give me the opportunity to focus on my research, but also to interact with scholars in the other fields.”

Cortes is one of the first four fellows awarded as a result of GTF’s $360,000 financial commitment to support the first of multiple groups of tenure-track faculty at Texas higher education institutions working in areas related to student postsecondary success.

“Greater Texas Foundation’s mission is to support efforts to ensure all Texas students are prepared for, have access to, persist in and complete a postsecondary education,” notes Malon Southerland, GTF board chair. “GTF Fellows is a result of our board’s desire for the foundation to have a role in building research and teaching capacity for Texas faculty working in areas related to the foundation’s mission and strategy.”

GTF fellowships are designed to provide assistance to faculty by enabling research time, professional development and the opportunity to work with an experienced mentor. Cortes, who specializes in the economics of education and economic demography, will be mentored by Lori Taylor, a professor at the Bush School and in the Department of Economics at Texas A&M.

“Only one in five Texas seventh graders goes on to complete a college credential within six years of graduating from high school,” says Wynn Rosser, GTF president and CEO. “With the addition of a new cohort each year, over time, GTF Fellows will create a broad and deep network of highly talented and committed Texas researchers working to understand barriers for students and identify research-based solutions to help more Texas students access and succeed at the postsecondary level.”

GTFis a statewide education grantmaker based in Bryan, Texas. The foundation pursues its mission by forming partnerships, supporting research, sharing knowledge and making grants, putting particular focus on helping underserved and disadvantaged populations. From 2001 through 2012, the foundation’s grantmaking totaled nearly $40 million from more than 400 grants.

In addition to Cortes, the first group of fellows includes: Lyle McKinney, University of Houston; and Edna Alfaro and Melissa Martinez, Texas State University.

The selection process for the second cohort of fellows will begin in fall 2013. For more information about the GTF Fellows program, visit and click on “GTF Fellows.”


About Research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world’s leading research institutions, Texas A&M is in the vanguard in making significant contributions to the storehouse of knowledge, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represents total annual expenditures of more than $776 million. That research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting in many cases in economic benefits to the state, nation and world.

Media Contact: Lesley Henton, Division of Marketing & Communications at Texas A&M University; 979-845-5591,

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