Milagros Castillo-Montoya

Associate Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs

Expertise: Teaching Diverse College Students; College student learning, Equity in Higher Education; Qualitative Research Methods

Educational Leadership

Academic Degrees:

Doctor of Education in Organization and Leadership, Higher and Postsecondary Education, Teachers College, Columbia University
Master of Social Work in Administration, Policy, and Planning, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey



Milagros Castillo-Montoya is a first-generation scholar. She is an Associate Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs in the Educational Leadership Department at the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. She also serves as a Faculty Fellow at the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, Assistant Director of Faculty Development at the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL), and as an Affiliate Faculty with El Instituto and with the Sustainable Global Cities Initiative. Her research focuses on educational equity for first-generation college students, as well as racially minoritized students. Dr. Castillo-Montoya studies teaching and learning in racially and ethnically diverse college classrooms, particularly culturally relevant teaching in higher education. Dr. Castillo-Montoya’s scholarly work led her to be selected as an ACPA Emerging Scholar.

Dr. Castillo-Montoya has published in the Journal of Higher Education, Review of Educational Research, Review of Higher Education, Teaching in Higher Education, Harvard Educational Review, among other outlets. Dr. Castillo-Montoya has 20 years of professional experience in various areas of higher education including faculty work, higher education policy, academic affairs, and student affairs. She began her career as an educational opportunity fund program advisor (a Trio program for first-generation low-income college students) at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She is a mom of two children and loves being in nature. 



Higher Education AntiRacist Teaching (H.E.A.R.T.) Podcast

Castillo-Montoya, M. (2020, August 16). Episode 4: Stemify Podcast.


Selected Publications:

Turner Kelly, B., Castillo-Montoya, M., Varghese, R., & Zúñiga, X. (2022). Braids and Bridges: A Critical Collaborative AutoEthnography of Racially Minoritized Women Teaching Intergroup Dialogue. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education.

Castillo-Montoya, M., & Taylor, K. B. (2019). Researching Complex Collegiate Learning: A Critical and Integrative Approach to Classroom Observation. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education.

Wright-Mair, R., & Castillo-Montoya, M. (In Press). Sisterhood birthed through colonialism: A love letter approach to connection, healing, and transformation. Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism.

Castillo-Montoya, M., & Ives, J. (2021). Transformational practices supporting first-generation college students as academic learners: Findings from a Systematic Literature Review. Journal of First-generation Student Success, 1(1), 20-31. doi: 10.1080/26906015.2021.1890948

Ecton, W. G.*, Bennett, C. T.*, Nienhusser, H. K., Castillo-Montoya, M., & Dougherty, S. M. (2021). If you fund them, will they come?: Findings from a Ph.D. student fellowship program. AERA Open.

Castillo-Montoya, M., & Ives, J. (2021). Instructors’ conceptions of minoritized college students’ prior knowledge and their related teaching practices. Journal of Higher Education.

Castillo-Montoya, M., Zastoupil, G., & Newton, A. (2021). Developing Latinx students’ critical consciousness in a sport-based critical service-learning course. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, Winter 2021 Special Issue: Centering Social Justice in the Scholarship of Community Engagement.

Castillo-Montoya, M., & Ives, J. (2020). A liberating education: Integrating funds of knowledge and disciplinary knowledge to create tools for students’ lives. In K.C. Culver & T. L. Trolian (Eds.), New Directions for Teaching and Learning: Effective Instruction in College Classrooms: Research-Based Approaches to College and University Teaching. Medford, MA: Wiley.

Castillo-Montoya, M. (2020). The challenges and tensions in equity-minded teaching. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 52(2), 74-78

Ives, J., & Castillo-Montoya, M. (2020). First-generation students as academic learners: A review of the literature. Review of Educational Research, 90(2), 139-178

Castillo-Montoya, M. (2020). Learning assessment, evaluation, and research: “the wild card” in student affairs. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice.

Castillo-Montoya, M., Ramírez, J., Wright-Mair, R., Sotto, S., LePeau, L. A. & Brooms, D. R. (2020, March 31). Movidas: Globalizing Strategies for Advancing Racial Equity. Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. Available online:

Castillo-Montoya, M., & Reyes, D. (2020). Learning Latinidad: The Role of a Latino Cultural Center Service-Learning Course in College Students’ Latino Identity Inquiry and Sociopolitical Capacity. Journal of Latinos and EducationDOI: 10.1080/15348431.2018.1480374

Castillo-Montoya, M., Abreu, J., Abad, A. (2019). Racially liberatory pedagogy: A Black Lives Matter approach to education. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 32(9).

Castillo-Montoya, M. (2019). Professors’ strategies for teaching through diversity. Review of Higher Education, 42 (supplement), 199-226.

Robinson, A., Ives, J., Burgos-Lopez, L., & Castillo-Montoya, M. (2019, August 16). Racially and ethnically diversifying the professoriate. University of Connecticut, Center for Educational Policy Analysis.

Martínez, A., Castillo-Montoya, M., & Bolitzer, L. A. (2019). Learning within teaching: Insights faculty gain from their interactions with students around subject matter. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 30(1), 5-26. 

Abreu, J., Castillo-Montoya, M., & Kortz, K. (2019). Community college English instructors’ perceptions of learning and enacting culturally-sustaining teaching strategies. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 30(1), 27-50.

Rincón, B., & Castillo-Montoya, M. (2018). Teaching assessment in student affairs through service learning. Journal of Research & Practice in Assessment, 13, 39-50.

Castillo-Montoya, M. (2018). Rigor revisited: Scaffolding college student learning by incorporating their lived experiences. In C. Campbell (Ed.), New Directions for Higher Education, (2018) 181, 37-46. Medford, MA: Wiley.

Castillo-Montoya, M. (2017). Deepening understanding of prior knowledge: What diverse first-generation college students in the U.S. can teach us. Teaching in Higher Education, 22(5), 587-603.

Bolitzer, L. A., Castillo-Montoya, M. & Williams, L. (2016). Pursuing equity through diversity: Perspectives and propositions for teaching and learning in higher education. In F. Tuitt, C. Haynes, & S. Stewart (Eds.), Race, Equity, and the Learning Environment: The Global Relevance of Critical and Inclusive Pedagogies in Higher Education. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Castillo-Montoya, M. & Torres-Guzmán, M. (2012). Thriving in Our Identity and in the Academy: Latina Epistemology as a Core Resource. Harvard Educational Review, 82(4), 540-558.

Neumann, A., Castillo, M., & Bolitzer, L.A. (2012). Culturally Anchored Liberal Education. In J.A. Banks (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Diversity in Education (pp. 536-541). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Selected Presentations:

Ecton, W., Bennett, C., Nienhusser, H.K., Castillo-Montoya, M., Dougherty, S. (2020, November). If You Fund Them, Will They Come?: Findings from a Graduate Student Fellowship Program. Research paper to be presented at Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) Annual Conference. [Online]

Brooms, D., Castillo-Montoya, M., Sotto-Santiago, S., LePeau, L., & Wright-Mair, R. (2020, November 13).  Making Space for Community, Support and Healing in Racial Equity Higher Education Work. Interactive symposium to be presented at Council for Ethnic Participation (CEP) Pre-Conference, Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) Annual Conference. [Online]

Johnston-Guerrero, M., LePeau, L, George Mwangi, C., Castillo-Montoya, M., Wright-Mair, R., Brooms, D. (2020, November). (Im)Possible Strategy? Globalizing Efforts for Racial Equity in Higher Education. Interactive symposium to be presented at Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) Annual Conference. [Online]

Castillo-Montoya, M., & Ives, J., Kortz, K. (2019, November 15). Getting messy and teaching from the heart: How instructors shift their teaching conceptions and practices to teach through diversity. Research paper presented at roundtable at the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), Portland, OR.

Castillo-Montoya, M., & Taylor, K. (2018, November). Seeing the links between educational practices and learning in higher education: The benefits of multifaceted classroom observations. Scholarly paper presented at the Association for the Study of Higher Education, Tampa, FL.

Castillo-Montoya, M. (2016, November). Developing Students’ Sociopolitical Capacity: An Essential Learning Outcome for Racially Diverse First-Generation College Students. Research paper presented at the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) Annual Conference, Columbus, Ohio.

Castillo-Montoya, M.(2016, November). Reframing rigor as inclusive of diverse students’ lived experiences. Research paper presented at symposium (Rigor Revisited: Reframing notions of rigor by building scaffolding for equity and student success) at the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) Annual Conference, Columbus, Ohio.


Currently Funded Research:

Diversifying the Professoriate: A systematic literature review examining recruitment and retention policies and practices related to increasing faculty of color in the academy. The project is funded by the Research Excellence Program, Office for the Vice President of Research–the University of Connecticut.

Teaching Through Diversity Project (in process)
Research on the professional development of faculty who engage in a networked improvement community (NIC)–a type of community of practice–to enhance their understanding and skills around teaching through diversity in their classrooms. Dr. Castillo-Montoya serves as principal investigator for this research. The project is funded by:

  • CT- NASA Space Grant (2018)
  • ACPA-College Student Educators International Emerging Scholars (2016-2018)
  • Neag School of Education (Dean’s Research Incentive Grant)
  • UConn College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Dean’s Office, Fund for Interdisciplinary Research (FIRE)
  • UConn- Office of Vice Provost for Research – Scholarship Facilitation Fund (SFF)

Previously Funded Research:

Rincón, B., & Castillo-Montoya, M. White House Collaborative on Equity in Research on Women and Girls of Color Study Title: Examining Race Dialogues as a Tool for Mitigating Racial Climate for Women of Color in STEM.

Castillo-Montoya, M., Evanovich, J., Rincón, B., Farley, & M., McGarry, J. Public Discourse Project, University of Connecticut Humanities Institute. Study Title: Asset Assessment, Campus Collaboration, and Facilitator Professional Development for Intergroup Dialogue.

University of Connecticut, Office of the Vice President for Research, Scholarship Facilitation Fund, February 2015-February 2016. Principal Investigator for study: Higher Education and Student Affairs Administrators’ Learning of Assessment, Evaluation and Research.



Faculty Fellow, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, University of Connecticut (2020-21)

Recipient, Dr. Perry A. Zirkel Distinguished Teaching Award, Neag School of Education, 2020

Emerging Scholar, ACPA (College Student Educators International), 2016-2018.

Faculty of the Year, Honorable Mention, Puerto Rican and Latin American Cultural Center (PRLACC), UConn, 2015

Emerging Scholar, American Educational Research Association (AERA), Higher Education (Division J), 2014

K. Patricia Cross Future Leader, American Colleges and Universities (AACU), 2013



Associate Editor, Review of Higher Education

Contact Information
Phone860 486 3250
Mailing Address249 Glenbrook Rd., Unit 3093 Storrs, CT 06269
Office LocationGentry 240A