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UTA education researcher named Greater Texas Foundation Faculty Fellow

Friday, July 22, 2016 • Media Contact: Bridget Lewis

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A University of Texas at Arlington educator dedicated to helping students obtain baccalaureate degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics has been named a member of the 2016 Class of Greater Texas Foundation Faculty Fellows.

Yi “Leaf” Zhang, an assistant professor in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, is one of four 2016 Greater Texas Foundation Faculty fellows.

Yi “Leaf” Zhang, an assistant professor in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, is one of four fellows chosen from across the state this year. Each fellow receives up to $30,000 per year for three years to support research aligned with the Greater Texas Foundation’s mission to reinforce postsecondary preparation, access, persistence and completion for Texas students.

The program is designed to help build the research and teaching capacity of tenure-track faculty at Texas colleges working in areas related to student success.

“With the addition of a new cohort each year, it is our hope that our fellows will create a broad and deep network of highly talented and committed Texas researchers working to understand barriers for students and identify research‐based solutions to help more Texas students persist through completion of a postsecondary credential,” said Dr. Wynn Rosser, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Texas Foundation.

Zhang’s research focuses on community college transfer students’ persistence and degree completion at a four-year research university in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.    

“I am honored to receive this recognition as the Greater Texas Foundation Faculty Fellowship will allow me additional resources, time and mentorship to extend my current research on student persistence and postsecondary degree attainment in STEM fields of study,” Zhang said.

“This also serves as a foundation for future research on transfer students’ transition experiences and academic success. I hope the findings of the project will help researchers, administrators, and transfer students to gain a better understanding of the community college pathways to baccalaureate degree attainment and STEM success.”

The study will examine undergraduate transcript data collected over the past decade to provide detailed information about students’ complex academic behaviors, educational choices, and how these factors affect transfer students’ persistence in post-transfer, and ultimately, in bachelor degree completion. 

Casey Brown, chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, said Zhang’s work is representative of excellence in teaching and community engagement, principles of the University’s Strategic Plan 2020: Bold Solutions | Global Impact.

“Dr. Zhang’s project findings will contribute to a deeper understanding about factors that may hinder or facilitate transfer students’ ability to obtain baccalaureate degrees in STEM,” Brown said. “The work will also help both two and four year institutions develop programs, practice, and policy that undergird transfer students’ persistence and bachelor degree attainment.”

--Tamra Rains, contributing writer

About the UTA College of Education

The UTA College of Education offers nationally-ranked degree programs in Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Leadership, as well as three dynamic centers: Bilingual and ESL Education, K-16 Education Policy and Research, and the Southwest Center for Mind, Brain and Education. For a second consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report has named the College of Education's online graduate programs among the nation's best, and Value Colleges ranked the College No. 2 among the Top 50 Best Value Online Graduate Education programs of 2016. With more than 800 graduates last year, the college is one of the state’s leading producers of highly educated teachers and administrators.  Accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education, the College offers baccalaureate degrees in Elementary Education (with certification in Bilingual Education and teaching English as a Second Language), a Middle-Level Education (4-8), Secondary Education (7-12 and all-level), 8 master’s degrees including Literacy Studies, and an innovative K-16 Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. Visit to learn more.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a Carnegie Research-1 “highest research activity” institution of about 55,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second-largest institution in The University of Texas System. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times’ 2016 Best for Vets list. Visit to learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at