Press Release

Nine Graduate Students Honored with K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award

Washington, DC—The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) announced today the 2024 recipients of the annual K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award. The 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. The awards honor the legacy of distinguished university administrator, researcher, and teacher K. Patricia Cross.

The 2024 recipients are:

  • Oumarou Abdoulaye Balarabe, Higher Education and Student Affairs (Ohio University)
  • Tabatha Cruz, Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development (University of Minnesota)
  • Anisha Gupta, Preservation Studies (University of Delaware)
  • Anuj Gupta, Rhetoric, Composition, and the Teaching of English (University of Arizona)
  • Leah Harmon, Neuroscience (Yale University)
  • Bethany Kaser, English (Duquesne University)
  • Mayra Nuñez Martinez, School Organization and Education Policy (University of California, Davis)
  • Guerdiana Thelomar, Community Psychology (University of Miami)
  • Teresa Piedad Torres, Microbe Host Interactions (Vanderbilt University)

The recipients were chosen in a rigorous process from a pool of nominees who have demonstrated the potential for leadership and innovation in the areas of equity, community engagement, and teaching and learning. The K. Patricia Cross Award is open to all doctoral-level graduate students who are planning a career in higher education, regardless of academic department, and have been nominated by a faculty member or administrator. Graduate students in fields where the master’s degree is the terminal degree are also eligible.

“This year’s recipients truly embody the commitment to excellence in teaching, scholarship, leadership, and civic engagement that Pat Cross championed throughout her distinguished career,” said AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella. “We are thrilled to honor their achievements, and we look forward to the many ways in which they will shape the future of higher education.”

The recipients of the 2024 K. Patricia Cross Award were honored and introduced to the AAC&U community today during the opening plenary session of the AAC&U Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. The recipients will participate in sessions and meetings throughout the conference.

About AAC&U

The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) is a global membership organization dedicated to advancing the democratic purposes of higher education by promoting equity, innovation, and excellence in liberal education. Through our programs and events, publications and research, public advocacy, and campus-based projects, AAC&U serves as a catalyst and facilitator for innovations that improve educational quality and equity and that support the success of all students. In addition to accredited public and private, two-year, and four-year colleges and universities and state higher education systems and agencies throughout the United States, our membership includes degree-granting higher education institutions in more than twenty-five countries as well as other organizations and individuals. To learn more, visit