On August 31, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) announced that Professor Sharon Fries-Britt was recognized with the 2021 Social Justice in Education Award. This award honors individuals who have excelled in their efforts to link scholarship to social justice and recognizes their outstanding contributions that have transformed education research, policy, and/or practice.
Dr. Fries-Britt is a Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Counseling, Higher Education and Special Education (CHSE). She is highly regarded as an accomplished, productive, and influential scholar. Her research examines the experiences of high achieving Blacks in higher education, underrepresented minorities (URMs) in STEM fields, and issues of race, equity and diversity. Dr. Fries-Britt is also a highly sought-after speaker and consultant on major college and university campuses, as well as for national academic associations and government agencies. Her work is used to inform colleges and universities about how they can better support and enable faculty, staff, and students of diverse backgrounds to achieve their potential.
As her nominators noted, in many ways, Dr. Fries-Britt’s own career and success has been an act of social justice. As a researcher and academic leader, she is the first African American woman promoted from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor to Full Professor in the University of Maryland College of Education’s 100-year history. She was also the first recipient of the Women of Color Award from the President’s Commission of Women’s Issues.
She has been recognized with the Association for the Study of Higher Education’s Outstanding Mentor Award in the fall of 2011 and with the Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Award at the University of Maryland in 2019. She will be presented with her award at AERA’s virtual awards celebration on Tuesday, December 7 and deliver the Social Justice in Education Award Lecture at the 2022 AERA Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA.
“Dr. Fries-Britt has long been a mentor and possibility model for so many in the College of Education and beyond,” noted Kimberly Griffin, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Faculty Affairs. “We could not be more proud of this achievement, and celebrate her contributions to the advancement of social justice in education.”