University of Kentucky College of Education professor Dr. Cheryl E. Matias has received national recognition for her work in racial justice and teacher education as recipient of the 2020 American Educational Research Association’s Mid-Career Award in Division K (Teaching & Teacher Education).
“Dr. Matias has clearly become a leading voice in racially just teacher education,” wrote Dr. Dorothea Anagnostopoulos, vice-president of the association’s Teaching & Teacher Education Division and associate professor at the University of Connecticut. “Dr. Matias’ work rose to the top in a competitive group of very strong nominations.”
A national panel of senior scholars unanimously selected Matias for the mid-career award for her contributions to the field, including her research in whiteness, gender, and diversity.
“As a motherscholar and woman faculty member of color, there were barriers to overcome, hidden pathways to navigate, and unspoken rules I had to learn during my early academic journey. This award is especially meaningful to me because it represents not only the difficulty in navigating academia as a motherscholar of color, but also the importance of studying the emotionality of whiteness to promote racially just teaching practices. And, in a time like now, it is vital we come together for racial harmony,” Matias said.
Matias’ research and teaching career is fueled by her pursuit of justice and humanity and how education can promote those healthy societal ideals, she said. While her research and teaching are primarily in racial justice in education she also commits herself to removing barriers in academia that often impact women, faculty of color, and mothers in academia.
Matias has published two books in recent years, Feeling White: Whiteness, Emotionality, and Education and Surviving Becky(s): Pedagogies for Deconstructing Whiteness and Gender. She has two forthcoming books – Critical Theoretical Research Methods in Education and The Other Elephant in the Room: White Liberalism and its Barriers to Racial Justice.
In 2018, Matias was ranked among the top 25 women in higher education making a difference in the journal Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. Some of her publications can be found in internationally recognized journals such as Race, Ethnicity, and Education, Teacher Education Quarterly, Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis, Equity and Excellence, and the Journal of Teacher Education and Multicultural Perspectives.
Matias delivers national talks and workshops on whiteness, racial justice, and diversity. She is a full professor and director of secondary education programs, including the Master’s with Initial Certification program, in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the UK College of Education.