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Research Interests

  • History of African American Education (Specialization in 20th Century African American Higher Educational History)
  • Critical University Studies (Specialization in Conservative Philanthropy and the Corporatization of the Academy; Politics of Curriculum)
  • African American Women’s Educational Leadership and Teaching (Cultural-Identity Taxation; Identity and Pedagogy)

Members of the Chair at the Table Women in Academic Leadership Collective at the 4th Annual Working Symposium for Early-Mid Career Women of Color, Vanderbilt University. Dr. Nicol is a member of the collective which also hosts mentoring workshops for aspiring Black women academic leaders.  For more info:


Current Research Projects

Race, Conservative Philanthropy and the Funding of the Academic Culture Wars (scholarly monograph)

Black Woman on Board: Claudia Hampton, The California State University and the Fight to Save Affirmative Action, 1974-1994 (Under advanced contract with the University of Rochester Press)

Peer Reviewed Publications

Donna J. Nicol, (November 2021) “Chairing as Self-Care: Strategies for Combating the Cultural Identity Taxation Trap for Black Women Chairs (Special Issue on Black Women Department Chairs Discuss Academic Service, Leadership and Balance) Palimpsest: A Journal of Women, Gender and the Black International, Volume 10, Issue 2, 179-188.

Donna J. Nicol, “Conservative Philanthropy’s War on Ethnic and Gender Studies in U.S. Higher Education” (June 2020) (History of Philanthropy).

Donna J. Nicol and Jennifer A. Yee. 2017. “Reclaiming Our Time: Women of Color Faculty and Radical Self-Care”, Feminist Teacher (Special Issue on Learning to Teach: Women of Color Reflect on Graduate School Pedagogical Praxis). 27, no. 2-3, 133-156.

Donna J. Nicol “Movement Conservatism and the Attack on Ethnic Studies”, 2013. Race, Ethnicity and Education. 16, no. 5, 653-672.

Donna J. Nicol. “Abolition” (2013). In Cortes, Carlos, E. and Golson, G. (eds). Encyclopedia of Multiracial America. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Donna J. Nicol, “Teaching Agency and Analysis Using Racist and Sexist Imagery: Implications for Cultural Studies in the College Classroom”, 2012. Feminist Teacher, Vol. 22, no. 2, 89-107.

Donna J. Nicol and Jennifer A. Yee. “The Girls from Compton Go to College” (2012). In H. Skhott-Myhre and C. Richardson (eds.) Habitus of the ‘Hood, 159-188. London: Intellect Press.

Donna J. Nicol, “Women’s Studies” (2011). In Diner, Hasia (ed.) Encyclopedia of American Women’s History. New York: Facts on File.

Public Scholarship (Publications and Lectures)

Donna J. Nicol, “Racism and Conservative Philanthropy in the US”, Unpack the Past Feature,, February 17, 2022 Accessible here:

Donna J. Nicol, “Activism for Profit: America’s Anti-Affirmative Action Industry”, Opinion,, February 28, 2021. Accessible here:

Donna J. Nicol, “Counter Race Philanthropy and US Higher Education” A Webinar Presentation for the City University of London Series on US Think Tanks and Foundations in World Politics: The Nexus of Knowledge and Power. November 13, 2020 Accessible here:

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