University at Buffalo

Stephen Santa-Ramirez, PhD (he/him/his)

Stephen Santa-Ramirez, PhD

Assistant Professor of Higher Education

Assistant Professor


Specialty/Research Focus

Access and Equity; Diversity; Immigrant Issues; Higher Education; Race, Inequality, and Education; Legal Issues

Contact Information
482 Baldy Hall
North Campus

Professional Summary:

Dr. Stephen Santa-Ramirez (he/him/his) is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education at the University at Buffalo (UB), which operates on the unceded ancestral territory of the Seneca Nation of the Haudenosaunee Six Nations Confederacy. His vast experiences in U.S. higher education and student affairs include work in Multicultural and LGBT+ Affairs, Residential Life and Housing Services, and Migrant Student Services. In addition to teaching at UB, Dr. Santa-Ramirez has taught for the Philadelphia Freedom Schools, Michigan State University, The University of Texas at Arlington, and Arizona State University.

Dr. Santa Ramirez's personal and professional experiences in higher education – and identity as a scholar-practitioner-advocate – have played formative roles in the development of his research agenda, which centers on the lives and knowledge of historically marginalized and economically neglected students. Broadly, he investigates the historical, ideological, and structural inequities that impact Black, Latinx, Indigenous, migrant, and other marginalized communities. Particularly, by employing critical and asset-based frameworks, he investigates campus racial climate, transitions and belongingness of first-generation students of Color, college student activism and resistance, and the various ways race, ethnicity, im/migration status and policy inform the educational experiences of collegians who are undocu/DACAmented.

In addition to authoring a host of book chapters, some of his recently published peer-reviewed articles can be located in The Review of Higher Education, NASPA's Journal of First-generation Student Success, Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, Journal of Negro Education, Education Sciences, and New Directions for Higher Education.

Dr. Santa-Ramirez is an Associate Editor for the College Student Affairs Journal (CSAJ), and the 2023 invited special issue editor for New Directions for Higher Education (journal) centering on the experiences of undocumented college students.

Dr. Santa-Ramirez is a 2022 National Academy of Education (NAEd)/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow and a 2022 Diamond Honoree via ACPA - College Student Educators International, a prestigious honor for professionals who have made and continue to make a tremendous impact in the field of higher education and student affairs. He also received the 2023 UB Pillar of Leadership and the 2022 UB GSE S.T.A.R. Faculty Teaching awards. Furthermore, in recent years, he has received the Legacy of Leadership honor from West Chester University and was selected as a Fellow for NASPA's Emerging Faculty Leadership Academy, the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE), and New York University's Faculty First-Look. He is also a Diversity Scholar via the University of Michigan’s National Center for Institutional Diversity and a recipient of the ACPA Latinx Network Community Advancement & Service Award.

Education and Training:
  • Certificate - Public Narrative: Leadership, Storytelling, and Action, Harvard University, Kennedy School of Public Policy & Government
  • Certificate - Penn Equity Institute, University of Pennsylvania, Center for the Study of Race & Equity in Education
  • Certificate - Socioeconomic Justice, Arizona State University, School of Social Transformation
  • Ph.D., Educational Policy and Evaluation, Arizona State University
  • M.A., Student Affairs Administration, Michigan State University
  • B.A., Communication Studies, West Chester University
Awards and Honors:
  • NAEd/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow 2022; National Academy of Education; 2022-05-09;
  • Diamond Honoree; ACPA - College Student Educators International; 2022-03-08;
  • NASPA’s Emerging Faculty Leadership Academy (EFLA); NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education; 2021-02-01;
  • University of Michigan's Diversity Scholars Network; University of Michigan; 2020-09-30;
  • NYU Faculty First-Look Fellow/Visiting Affiliate; New York University; 2019-11-01;
Recent Publications:
Journal Article:
  • Santa-Ramirez, S. (2023). A historical snapshot of Latinx student activism from the 1960s – 1990s: A university archival analysis. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 22(1), 46-59.
  • Santa-Ramirez, S. (2022). Their mere existence is resistance: Undocu/DACAmented collegians' resisting subordination in turbulent times. The Review of Higher Education, 46(2), 209-247.
  • Santa-Ramirez, S. (2022). Sink or swim: The mentoring experiences of Latinx Ph.D. students with faculty of Color. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 15(1), 124-134.
  • Santa-Ramirez, S., Wells, T., Sandoval, J., & Koro, M. (2022). Working through first-generation students of Color experiences, university mission, intersectionality, and post-subjectivity. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 35(2), 109-124.
Book Chapter:
  • Muñoz, S. M., & Santa-Ramirez, S. (2022). Reimagining institutionalized support for undocumented and DACA college students: A critical approach. In R. Johnson, U. Anya, & L. Garces (Eds.), Racial Equity on College Campus: Connecting Research to Practice (pp. 141-165). SUNY Press.
Recent Presentations:
Invited Lectures:
  • Santa-Ramirez, S. (November 2022). The Future is Bright: Reaching Back and Paying it Forward. Keynote Speaker for Texas State University’s First-generation College Student Celebration Day, San Marcos, TX.;
  • Santa-Ramirez, S., & Hall, K. A. (November 2022). Leaning into UndocuJoy: Undocu/DACAmented Collegians’ Stories of Joy. Research paper presented at the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) Annual Conference, Las Vegas, NV.;
  • Santa-Ramirez, S., & Wallace, J. (November 2022). We Got Work to Do: Testimonios of Queer BIPOC Practitioner-scholar-advocates Navigating the Academy. Scholarly paper presentation at the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) Annual Conference, Las Vegas, NV.;
  • Santa-Ramirez, S., Block, S., Vargas, A., & Muralidhar, K. (April 2022). First-generation Collegians Navigating the Transition into Higher Education During the Global Health Pandemic COVID-19. Presentation at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Conference, San Diego, CA.;
  • Santa-Ramirez, S. (October 2021). "When Are We No Longer Undocumented?”: How Citizenship & Race Interact for Latinx Undocu/DACAmented Collegians. Presentation at the Critical Race Studies in Education Association (CRSEA) Annual Conference, Newark, DE.;
Recent Grants:
  • So, What Happens Now?: The Post-Graduation Transitional Experiences of Undocu/DACAmented Collegians; Foundation and Research Organization; 2022 NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship; Awarded; (09/01/2022-08/01/2023)
  • Transitional Experiences of Collegians who are Undocu/DACAmented; Foundation and Research Organization; NASPA Foundation Channing Briggs Research Grant; Awarded; (05/01/2022-08/01/2023)
  • Transitional Experiences of Collegians who are Undocu/DACAmented; Foundation and Research Organization; ACPA Foundation Research Grant; Awarded; (10/08/2021-10/08/2021)
  • First-generation collegians navigating the transition into higher education during the global health pandemic COVID-19; Local; UB Graduate School of Education Seed Grant; Awarded; (09/01/2021-06/01/2022)
Recent Editorships:
  • Associate Editor; College Students Affairs Journal
  • Editorial Board; Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice (JSARP)
  • Advisory Board; Journal of Critical Scholarship on Higher Education and Student Affairs
  • Associate Editor; Journal of Critical Scholarship on Higher Education and Student Affairs
  • Section Editor; Current Issues in Education Journal

Contact Information

482 Baldy Hall
North Campus