New Professors Amp Up Batten’s Renowned Faculty Power

The Batten School celebrated its 15-year anniversary last year, marking substantial impact in the higher education world of leadership and public policy. The school continues to grow its reach and reputation with the addition of five outstanding faculty members who join the Batten community this fall. 

More than ever, evidence-based, innovative and collaborative policy solutions are critical to address the world’s most vexing problems, as is the need for educators who inspire the next generation to lead from anywhere. The five professors are joining Batten’s interdisciplinary and award-winning faculty, which is which is reputed worldwide for outstanding research and pedagogy.

“We are excited and honored to welcome these five new faculty members to Batten, each of whom has contributed invaluable insights that stand to inspire students, ignite change and shape leaders to transform the world,” said Eileen Chou, an associate professor of public policy and the school's associate dean for academic affairs. 

The Batten School welcomes Kyle Dobson, Gerald Higginbotham, Ashley Jardina, Gerard Robinson and Abigail Scholer!

Below are brief introductions of the faculty members. Look for a series of profiles of the new professors in the coming months. 

kyle dobson

Kyle Dobson, Assistant Professor of Leadership and Public Policy

Dobson studies how people form authentic connections at work, primarily in occupations where employees sacrifice their well-being in service to others. He has recently focused on police departments, looking at how police view themselves and how that affects their interactions in and out of uniform. He has also studied school systems and how teachers can create environments that encourage people to be authentic within those contexts. 

Dobson received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Delaware and his doctorate from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

In Spring 2024, he will teach LPPP 4991, an undergraduate capstone seminar, and LPPP 7559, a graduate elective on police/community relations.

Every scholar in Batten is committed to changing the world for the better—whether that’s through educating leaders motivated to do so or producing research that leaders enacting change can follow for best practices. Batten has attracted such a diverse group of considerate, passionate and critical thinkers, that I am convinced I will truly always be learning new innovative ways to improve the world from my students and colleagues.

Kyle Dobson
Assistant Professor
gerald higginbotham

Gerald Higginbotham, Assistant Professor of Public Policy

Higginbotham studies the imprint of history on people’s social perceptions and policy attitudes, and the psychological underpinnings of how people perceive history and its consequences. Broadly, his research interests include stereotyping and prejudice, social cognition and intergroup relations in the domains of firearms, voting and education. Among his published papers are studies on the consequences of racial bias categorizing students versus athletes in college settings and pitting anti-Black attitudes against gun rights advocacy. 

Higginbotham received his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, and both his master’s and doctorate from the University of California in Los Angeles. He was a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion postdoctoral research associate at Batten from 2021 to 2023.

In Spring 2024, Higginbotham will teach the graduate elective LPPS 6820: Identity Politics: A Psychological and Historical Point of View, and LPPP 4991, an undergraduate capstone course for our Bachelor of Arts students.

For this generation of students, learning the skills of leadership and public policy are vital given the pressing challenges we face now, not just in the realm of traditional politics, but in technology, in the very real changes in our environment, and in the unmistakable task of pursuing solutions in an equitable way that brings good while reducing harm. Specifically, regarding leadership, I think the socially isolating nature of the pandemic dovetailing with a prolonged shift to online interactions makes learning the skill of how to lead people, including understanding when to follow and how to do so effectively, an invaluable asset for today’s students.

Gerald Higginbotham
Assistant Professor
ashley jardina

Ashley Jardina, Assistant Professor of Public Policy

Jardina's research focuses on racial attitudes, racial conflict and the way in which group identities influence political preferences in the United States. Her research and commentary have been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, Vox, 538, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and other outlets, and her book, White Identity Politics, was the 2020 winner of the American Political Science Association’s Robert E. Lane Award for the best book published in political psychology. 

Jardina received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in political science from the University of Michigan. 

She is teaching a graduate elective, LPPP 7559 Public Opinion and Public Policy, in Fall 2023, and an undergraduate capstone course LPPP 4991 in Spring 2024.

I’m looking forward to joining a group of world-class faculty conducting research aimed at solving some of today’s most important problems, and to working with so many dedicated and inspiring students who are determined to make a difference in the world.

Ashley Jardina
Assistant Professor
gerard robinson

Gerard Robinson, Professor of Practice in Public Policy and Law

Robinson has written extensively about K-12 and higher education, public policy, economic mobility, after-school programs and race. He has served in cabinet-level gubernatorial administrations in Florida and Virginia, and from 2017 to 2020 led the Center for Advancing Opportunity in Washington, D.C. where he oversaw an $11 million investment into evidence-based solutions for the most pressing education, entrepreneurship and criminal justice issues. He was recently appointed to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine as a member to the national Committee on Promoting Learning and Development In K-12 Out of School Time Settings For Low Income and Marginalized Children and Youth, which will publish a national report in 2025.

Robinson received his bachelor’s from Howard University and his master’s from Harvard University. 

He is teaching LPPP 5559: Education, Prisons and Public Policy, an elective open to graduates and undergraduates, in Fall 2023, and LPPP 7750: Applied Policy Project II, our graduate thesis course, in Spring 2024.

“Leadership is more than a word—it is a call to action. This is why Batten matters. There is no other school in the United States that makes leadership a priority, believes smart faculty and curious students can lead from anywhere, and uses public policy to invent new pathways to create a better place for all of us to live, work, or raise a family. I am glad to join the faculty and to contribute to the preparation of the next generation of thinkers and doers.”

Gerard Robinson
Professor of Practice
Abigail Scholer

Abigail Scholer, Batten Family Bicentennial Distinguished Leadership Professor of Public Policy

Scholer researches the dynamic, complex and often confounding world of human motivation and self-regulation. She takes a social psychological approach to explore how situational and individual factors lead people to both manage and mismanage life’s challenges and opportunities. Her research investigates the trade-offs related to different motivational states and examines the critical role of self-regulatory flexibility in navigating the world.

Scholer received her bachelor’s degree from Gettysburg College, and her master’s and doctoral degrees from Columbia University. While at the University of Waterloo, she held the Canada Research Chair in Motivational Social Cognition.

In Spring 2024, she is teaching two sections of LPPL 2600: Foundations of Behavioral Science, one of Batten’s prerequisite courses for the Bachelor of Arts and Leadership and Public Policy Minor programs.

I’m thrilled to join the Batten community—a remarkable place that brings together faculty from multiple disciplines who, alongside Batten’s students, are invested in doing work to address real societal challenges. It’s not just students who get an opportunity to grow at Batten—as a faculty member, I’m also looking forward to being stretched and challenged as a scholar in this unique environment.

Abigail Scholer
Garrett Hall at Sunset

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