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Kelly E. Slay

Assistant Professor of Higher Education and Public Policy, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations

Dr. Kelly Slay is an Assistant professor of Higher Education and Public Policy in the Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. Her research examines issues of race, diversity, and equity in higher education and is primarily focused in three areas: the factors shaping Black students’ college choice, completion, and career trajectories; the use and implications of enrollment management policies (admissions, recruitment and financial aid) aimed at improving campus diversity, particularly in post-affirmative action contexts; and racial and gender inequities in STEM in undergraduate and graduate education. Two of Dr. Slay’s current projects explore the relationship between enrollment management practices in elite contexts and the college choice decisions and transition experiences of Black students and students from low-income backgrounds. Her research is published in journals such as Teachers College Record, the Review of Higher Education, and Educational Policy.  

Before coming to Vanderbilt, Dr. Slay was an inaugural President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Maryland and a postdoctoral associate in the Center for Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education. Drawing lessons from her personal background as a first-generation college student and professional experiences in public policy and college access, recruitment, and readiness programs, Dr. Slay is passionate about helping students pursue their educational and career goals. She received a Ph.D. in higher education with a concentration in public policy from the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan.