Special Merit Award

Presented to a person, group, or organization in recognition of distinctive support for the purposes and goals of the Association for the Study of Higher Education.

2020 Special Merit Award

The Indigenous Scholars Collective
Indigenous Scholars Collective has initiated a transformation in ASHE that tilts towards justice and makes ASHE a better educational organization. The Indigenous Scholars Collective has generously worked with ASHE to help the organization recognize, understand, and transform its complicity in colonial norms and practices. Specifically, over the last few years, the Collective has given generously of their time and wisdom to help ASHE become a better ally to Native and Indigenous communities. For example, the Collective developed 1) a framework for helping ASHE develop relationships with Native communities that live in areas where the annual conference will take place and 2) a set of resources for helping ASHE community members be more informed about Native and Indigenous issues and populations. The presence and contributions of Native and Indigenous voices around ASHE broaden the epistemological and philosophical basis for planning and decision- making in ways that prioritize the importance of relationships, reciprocity, and the possibility of reparative justice. 

This Collective of thoughtful scholar-colleagues includes: 
Charlotte Davidson (Diné/Three Affiliated Tribes - Mandan, Hidatsa, & Arikara) 
Karen Francis-Begay (Navajo) 
Breanna Faris (Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes) 
Kaiwipunikauikawēkiu Punihei Lipe (Native Hawaiian) 
Jameson Lopez (Quechan) 
Christine Nelson (Diné/K’awaika) 
Nicole “Coco” Reyes (Native Hawaiian) 
Charlie A. Scott (Diné) 
Heather J. Shotton (Wichita/Kiowa/Cheyenne) 
Tiffany Smith (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma/Muscogee (Creek) 
Amanda Tachine (Navajo) 
Stephanie Waterman (Onondaga - Turtle Clan) 
Erin Kahunawai Wright (Native Hawaiian) 
Natalie Youngbull (Cheyenne & Arapaho/Assiniboine & Sioux) 
Robin Zape-tah-hol-ah Minthorn (Kiowa/Apache/Nez/Perce/Umatilla/Assiniboine) 

2020 Special Merit Award:
The Indigenous Scholars Collective

Call for Nominations

Nominations are for the 2021 award will open in May 2021.

To submit a nomination you will need the following information to complete the form:

  • Name, Title, Position, Institution, Email, and Phone Number of Coordinating Nominator
  • Name, Title, Position, Institution, Email, and Phone Number of Nominee
  • A nomination statement up to 750 words which explains why the nominee deserves this ASHE award. Rationale may include, but is not limited to, the nominee’s impact on higher education theorizing, research, practice, and/or ASHE as an organization.
  • 2-3 letters of support. For upload into the nomination form, these should be combined into one document, preferably a pdf.
  • The nominee's CV.

New for 2020: Each nominee will be limited to one nomination. In the event multiple nominations are submitted, the committee chair will notify the coordinating nominators requesting they consolidate their nominations with the best three letters. 


  • 2016 Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA
  • 2015 Inside Higher Ed
  • 2011 Institute for Higher Education Policy
  • 2010 The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education
  • 2008 The National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, University of South Carolina
  • 2006 United Negro College Fund
  • 2005 Samuel E. Kellams
  • 2004 Jerry Davis/Lumina
  • 2003 University of Michigan Affirmative Action Defense Team
  • 2002 Walter R. Allen
  • 2001 Clifford Adelman & Deborah Wilds
  • 2000 Michael Olivas
  • 1995 Lavina Fielding Anderson
  • 1993 Walter Hobbs
  • 1992 Jossey-Bass Incorporated Publishers
  • 1989 Peggy Heim & Robert Silverman