CCU’s Emily Gaspar to conduct research in Australia as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar for 2024-25

March 19, 2024
Emily Gaspar, Ph.D., interim assistant vice president for University Belonging and Student Affairs at Coastal Carolina University

Emily Gaspar, Ph.D., interim assistant vice president for University Belonging and Student Affairs at Coastal Carolina University, has been selected as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar for 2024-25 in Australia. Gaspar’s research will explore the employment experiences of disability services practitioners (DSP), who identify as disabled, and work at institutions of higher education in Australia. Her project focuses on the experiences of disabled DSP whose personal disability identity, coupled with professional expertise regarding disability in higher education, make them lived-experience experts. She will be primarily based at Deakin University in Melbourne.

“My Fulbright curiosity developed in Spring 2020 during a global pandemic, when we all barely left our homes, much less the country,” said Gaspar. “I had the good fortune of colleagues, both at Coastal and other institutions, sharing their Fulbright knowledge and experiences with me. This fueled my interest and aspirations. I was also reading Sara Ahmed’s work about the phenomenology of whiteness and was intrigued by her comparative analysis of practitioners in the UK and Australia. Ahmed’s work expanded my thinking and I saw opportunity to compare disabled disability services practitioners lived experiences in the U.S. and Australia. From there, I developed and iterated my Fulbright project proposal with invaluable input from CCU colleagues Pam Martin and Billy Hills.”

Deakin University is an international leader in research and one of the first universities in Australia to establish a disability resource center on campus, Gaspar said.

“This demonstrated commitment to progressive innovation makes Deakin the ideal setting for my disability research project,” she said. “Deakin has a strong research reputation, and my project closely aligns with Deakin’s well-known research strengths. I have been very fortunate to establish a relationship with Professor Angela Dew, who serves as the disability and inclusion research stream leader at Deakin. The Institute for Health and Transformation includes the disability and inclusion research stream with an interdisciplinary team focused on teaching, research, and service that centers the voices of disabled people.”

Gaspar joined the CCU community in August 2017 as the director of accessibility and disability services and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance officer. Prior to joining the University, she served as assistant dean of students at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and supported students experiencing unanticipated life events and personal crises. She fulfilled a similar role at the University of Arizona in the Dean of Students office. Gaspar began her career in higher education at Colorado State University (CSU) working in residence life.

She earned her Master of Science in student affairs in higher education from CSU and a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Arizona State University. In May 2023, she earned her doctorate in education sciences with a specialization in higher education administration from CCU.

“The opportunity to extend my research internationally brings to life the legacy pillar of CCU Reach,” said Gaspar. “More specifically, the Fulbright award enables me to advance research and grow strategic collaborations on behalf of the division of University Belonging and Student Affairs, the Spadoni College of Education and Social Sciences, and the University. Beyond my specific research project, the Fulbright award is meaningful to me because higher education administration is, at times, an under-recognized specialization, and the Fulbright award highlights the importance of both my professional experience and academic discipline. I hope my Fulbright experience highlights and amplifies the value of the higher education administration specialization and demonstrates the value of the scholar practitioner model in student affairs.”