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Research & Assessment Committee
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Research & Assessment

The purposes of the SACSA Research & Assessment Committee are to encourage research in the college student affairs field; to provide current research and reports to the membership in a timely manner; and to coordinate the selection and awarding of the SACSA Research Incentive Grant and the Dissertation of the Year Award. Both awards are presented at the annual conference awards and recognition luncheon.


Committee Membership

 Dr. Danielle K. Molina, Chair Mississippi State University

Joseph Barton

Mississippi State University

Courtney Campbell

University of West Georgia

John Cimmino

Appalachian State University

Dr. Bonnie Daniel

University of Tennessee, Martin

Megan Downey

Florida State University

Amber Falluccca

University of South Carolina

Stephen Howard

Eastern Kentucky University

Brittany Martin

University of West Georgia

Dr. Thomas Newsom

Mesalands Community College

Hailey Palmer

Clemson University

Shabina Panjwani

Georgia Institute of Technology

Gia Rimi

University of West Georgia

Lauren Rust

Wake Forest University

Chris Sarrichio

Clemson University

Spencer Scruggs

Florida State University

Dr. Gina Sheeks

Columbus State University

Matt Smith

University of Georgia

Heather Solov

University of West Georgia

Jerry Staples

University of South Florida

Simone Stewart

Ryan Thomas

Mississippi State University

Jason Titus

Texas Christian University

Dr. Mary Alice Varga

University of West Georgia

Alicia White Price

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Dylan Wilkes

Clemson University


Dissertation of the Year Award

2017 Dissertation of the Year Award Information

The Southern Association for College Student Affairs (SACSA) annually presents a Dissertation of the Year Award (DOY) to recognize high quality research by doctoral students in student affairs in the SACSA region.

The award recipient(s) will be honored at the Fall 2017 SACSA conference with a small monetary prize. Prize money is intended to supplement the cost of registration and travel to the Fall 2017 SACSA conference where the recipient(s) will be given a session in the program schedule to present the results of their dissertation research. The DOY award winner(s) is also encouraged to submit an article about the research for possible publication in the College Student Affairs Journal within a year after receiving the award.

Click here for additional information about the DOY Award application process, including evaluation criteria, qualifications, application requirements, and submission guidelines. All submissions must be sent via email to no later than Friday, August 16th , 2017 at 11:59 p.m.

2016 Dissertation of the Year Award Recipient

The Research & Assessment Committee is pleased to announce Dr. Steve D. Mobley, Jr. as the recipient of SACSA’s 2016 Dissertation of the Year Award. Dr. Mobley completed his dissertation in the Educational Policy and Leadership: Higher Education program at the University of Maryland – College Park. His dissertation is titled, Difference amongst Your Own: The Lived Experiences of Low-Income African-American Students and Their Encounters with Class within Elite Historically Black College (HBCU) EnvironmentsDr. Smith is currently an Assistant Professor of Higher Education at the University of Alabama.

Research Grant

2017 Research Grant Information

SACSA encourages scholarly inquiry among its membership by annually awarding small grants to advance proposed research projects. Any individual or research team may apply for these competitive grants. The average award granted a single project is $500. However, the selection committee may choose to award funds in excess of this amount to grant proposals they feel are exceptional. Multiple research grants may be awarded in a given year depending on the availability of funding and the discretion of the selection committee.

Click here for additional information about the Research Grant application process, including evaluation criteria, qualifications, application requirements, and submission guidelines. All submissions must be sent via email to no later than Friday, August 16th, 2017 at 11:59 p.m.

2016 Research Grant Recipients

The Research & Assessment Committee is pleased to announce the following recipients of the 2016 research grant competition:

Dr. Tiffany J. Davis and J. W. “Winn” Decker have been awarded funding for their study, Exploring the Relationship between the It’s On Us Sexual Assault Prevention Campaign and Students’ Active Bystander Practices. Dr. Davis currently serves as Teaching Assistant Professor and Higher Education Master’s Program Coordinator at North Carolina State University. Mr. Decker is currently a graduate student in the Higher Education master’s program and the Graduate Assistant for Fraternity and Sorority Life at North Carolina State University.


Cynthia R. Polk-Johnson from Capella University has been awarded funding for her study, From Student Affairs to CEO:  Factors Influencing the Career Progression of African American Women Presidents of Four-Year Colleges and Universities. Ms. Polk-Johnson currently serves as an Associate Dean of Students at University of Tennessee – Knoxville.


Requests to Use SACSA Information for Research Projects

The Research & Assessment Committee is also responsible for approving requests to use SACSA information (e.g., membership lists) for advancing research projects. Please note the following requirements for such requests: The Research & Assessment Committee will review the study, the IRB, and make a decision on approving the study. Persons or groups who want to survey or use the SACSA membership list for research purposes should follow this protocol.

1.     Submit a written request (email) to the Research & Assessment Committee Chair. This request should include detailed information about the research study and the IRB approval form.

2.     This request is reviewed by the Research & Assessment Chair and committee.

3.     If the request is approved, the chair will submit the proposal to the VP for submission to the Executive Council (EC).

4.     The VP will forward the request to the EC with a motion to approve.

5.     The applicant will receive an official letter/email informing him/her of the final decision. This letter will include any associated costs (if applicable), the reason for denial or conditions of approval, and contact information for those involved in supporting the research.

Please submit the request, information regarding the research study, and IRB approval document to Dr. Danielle Molina at


The Research & Assessment Committee has created a new system called SACSAworks where members can upload their current research or scholarly works for other members to view. Find information about SACSAworks and research tips here. 

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