The K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award

The K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award recognizes graduate students who show exemplary promise as future leaders of higher education and who are committed to academic innovation in the areas of equity, community engagement, and teaching and learning.

Nomination Process 

All doctoral-seeking graduate students who are planning a career in higher education are eligible for nomination, regardless of academic discipline. Graduate students in fields where the master’s degree is the terminal degree (such as the MFA in art) are also eligible.

Nominations from a faculty member or administrator are required.
More information about the 2022 Nomination Process

Nominations undergo a robust review process engaging past Cross Award winners and AAC&U staff in a multi-phase review process. Winners are selected based upon their demonstrated commitments to equity, innovations in teaching and learning, and community engagement as integrated components of their graduate work.


The awards are announced in December, and recipients of the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Awards will be recognized at, and will participate in, AAC&U’s Annual Meeting in January.

The K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Awards provide financial support for graduate students to attend AAC&U’s Annual Meeting. All award recipients are required to attend the meeting.

The awards include travel, lodging, meeting registration, and a one-year affiliation with AAC&U, including a subscription Liberal Education magazine.

Each year, hundreds of laudable graduate students are nominated for the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award. As such, all finalists—including the winners—are inducted into the AAC&U Future Leaders Society and have access to an exclusive community designed to support ongoing engagement, collaboration, and support.

For more information, contact Kathryn Enke at 202.888.4647 or

Recipients of the 2021 K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award

terri.jpgTerri Dunbar
Engineering Psychology
Georgia Institute of Technology


eliaquin_gonell.jpgEliaquin Gonell
Education Leadership and Policy Studies
University of Vermont


devon_isaacs.jpgDevon Isaacs
Clinical/Counseling Psychology
Utah State University


megan_massa.jpgMegan Massa
University of California, Los Angeles


kristen_nelson.jpgKristen Nelson
University of California, Berkeley


perez-udell_rachel_.jpgRachel Perez-Udell
Plant Biology
University of Georgia


russo_tait.jpgTatiane Russo-Tait
STEM Education
University of Texas at Austin


Meshell_Surgis.jpgMeshell Sturgis
University of Washington


ashleen_williams.jpgAshleen Williams
University of Mississippi


Archive of Cross Scholars Since 2006

About K. Patricia Cross


The awards honor the work of K. Patricia Cross, Professor Emerita of Higher Education at the University of California–Berkeley. Throughout her career, Dr. Cross helped the higher education community better understand our students, their characteristics, and their needs, and recognize what our responsibilities should be. Her groundbreaking scholarship paved the way for a legacy of work on age, socioeconomic class, gender, race, sexual orientation, and numerous other aspects of intersectional social identity.

Dr. Cross’s distinguished career in higher education began as assistant dean of women at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, then continued as dean of students at Cornell University. She served as distinguished research scientist at the Educational Testing Service; professor and chair of the department of administration, planning, and social policy at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education; and then as David Pierpont Gardner Professor of Education at the University of California–Berkeley. She is the author of seven books on classroom teaching, learning, and assessment.

Dr. Cross is a member of the National Academy of Education and twice served as chair of the Board of the American Association for Higher Education. She is a former board member for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the Berkeley Public Library, and Elderhostel (now known as Road Scholar).

Archive of K. Patricia Cross’s work