About Us

Mission Statement

The African American Doctoral Scholars Initiative provides a scholarly community and educational services for African American doctoral students at the University of Utah. These competitive scholarships are awarded annually to full-time African American doctoral students who demonstrate significant potential for leadership, scholarship, and active engagement in their respective disciplines and who also demonstrate a commitment to understanding Black life, history, and culture in the United States. The Initiative prepares African American doctoral students for academic, industry, and entrepreneurial careers through faculty mentoring, advising and professional development.


Vision Statement

The African American Doctoral Scholars Initiative creates a multidisciplinary, critical mass of African American scholars dedicated to the eradication of institutional and systemic racism and oppression by addressing the inequities endured by African American people. We create thought leaders who tackle substantive issues central to Black life, history, and culture. Graduates of this program conduct research and implement programs and policies that positively impact Black people in the United States.



DenIEce Dortch, Ph.D.

Deniece Dortch joined the University of Utah in the fall of 2016 as postdoc research fellow and the inaugural Program Manager of the African American Doctoral ScholarsInitiative (AADSI). She earned her Ph.D. in Higher & Postsecondary Education Leadership from theUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison, a Master’s of Education degree in Higher & Postsecondary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and a Master ofArts in Intercultural Service, Leadership & Management from the School forInternational Training in Vermont.
She uses critical phenomenological approaches to understanding how African American undergraduate and graduate students experience and respond to race and racism at predominantly white institutions of higher education. She is especially interested in how psychological violence is experienced, manifested and reproduced in the academy. Dr.Dortch’s research has been published in the Journal of Negro Education, TeachersCollege Record, NASPA Journal about Women in Higher Education, New Directions inHigher Education, and the Journal for the Study of Sports and Athletes in Education.In support of her work in diversity equity and inclusion, Dortch was recently awarded the Bringing Theory to Practice Grant from the American Association of Colleges andUniversities which will focus on a racial justice dialogue series at the University of Utah designed to engage participants in racial justice allyism, advocacy, and community-building beginning this Spring. Her postdoctoral work not only tackles race, but also grapples with systemic oppression across multiple axes. Prior to Dr. Dortch’s postdoctoral work, she served as a program director for Texas AM University where she is the co-founder of Sista to Sista, a co-curricular leadership development program designed to foster a sense of connectedness amongst Black female college athletes. Deniece is a returned United States Peace Corps Volunteer who served in both Morocco and Jamaica. She is from Holland, MI.