Watson Chronicle


Watson College News

Welcome to New Faculty!

Saturday, September 11, 2021

The Watson College is pleased to introduce new faculty members in the Department of Educational Leadership:  Satlaj Dighe, Yan Liu, Shawn Savage and Samantha Silberstein. Please join us in welcoming them to UNCW!

Satlaj Dighe 
Assistant Professor

Satlaj Dighe earned her Ph.D. in Evaluation Studies from the University of Minnesota. She has also completed a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Minnesota and a Master’s in Development Studies from the University of Glasgow, UK. Before joining academia, Satlaj was involved in global health and education initiatives in India, Laos, and Ethiopia. In her career, she has worked with a diverse set of global institutions ranging from community-based organizations to international development organizations to design, lead, and implement evaluation and action research projects.  

As an evaluator and evaluation researcher, Satlaj’s interests lie in the area of evaluation capacity building at the grassroots level. She is primarily involved in helping field-based organizations to implement and use program evaluation to improve their programs and articulate the significance of their work. Satlaj is also interested in enhancing equity and diversity in evaluation. To that end, her research explores various dimensions of participatory, culturally responsive, and community-owned evaluation practice.  

Satlaj has been a part of various national and international evaluation projects such as the evaluation of Check and Connect, Minnesota – a special education program aimed at increasing high-school graduation rates of ethnic minority students with disabilities and an evaluation of the national community health worker program by the government of India. In 2018, she received the Super Researcher fellowship from Save the Children International to design and implement research to study early childhood education in Ethiopia.  

Satlaj’s work has been published in the International Journal of Early Childhood (IJEC), Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation (CJPE), Journal of Women’s Health, and Reconsidering Development. Satlaj has also presented her work at several national and international conferences. In addition, Satlaj is engaged with various program evaluation initiatives in the Global South. Translating her research on evaluation capacity into practice, she supports community-based organizations to design and implement strategic planning and evaluation capacity-building processes. 

Satlaj has come to Wilmington with her husband and a daughter. She and her family like to explore trails on their bikes, explore local eateries, spend time in their garden, and watch cooking shows. They are excited about the new phase of their lives unfolding in Wilmington.  

Yan Liu 
Assistant Professor

Dr. Yan Liu earned her dual-degree Ph.D. majored in K-12 Educational Administration and Educational Policy, with a certified specialization in Unban Education from Michigan State University. Prior to her doctoral study, Yan was a national English curriculum and instruction training officer, a school administrator, and a teacher in China. She then worked as a data team member for a federal grant-supported school intervention initiative, international exchange program coordinator, and research assistant at Michigan State University. Yan held a position as an Assistant Professor at Central Connecticut State University before joining UNCW.

Yan’s research agenda primarily focuses on school leadership and school effectiveness using the quantitative approach, with particular interests in understanding the intersectionality of school leaders’ credentials, practices, and effectiveness within different national, cultural, and socioeconomic contexts. Dr. Liu is specialized in advanced statistical modeling and large-scale, complex data analysis. She has served as Principal Investigator on several grant-sponsored research projects. Her research has been published in prestigious journals, including Educational Administration Quarterly, Journal of Educational Administration, Educational Management, Administration, & Leadership, School Effectiveness and School Improvement, and others.

As an instructor, Yan believes all students can succeed and is strongly committed to offering the best experience for each adult learner. She constantly develops her curriculum and teaches by incorporating her students’ needs, experiences, and learning styles. She has taught courses in research methodology, dissertation proposal development, program evaluation, school leadership and organizational theory, and educational finance at both doctoral and master’s levels.

Yan moved to Wilmington with her husband, Tianjiao (Dan), and their 7-year-old daughter, Mira. They look forward to enjoying the coastal life in their new home.

Shawn Savage 
Assistant Professor

Dr. Shawn S. Savage is an Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction for Equity in WCE's Department of Educational Leadership. Dr. Savage has over 10 years of experience in K-12 and Higher Education—both as an academic and student affairs professional.

A diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice scholar-practitioner, Dr. Savage’s research investigates issues of access, equity, and justice in K-12, teacher education, and higher education. He especially studies the experiences of racially minoritized males across their educational and professional lives—with a specific focus on Black males—using justice-centered qualitative research approaches. Importantly, his work is undergirded by Afrocentricity and explores the experiences of, and supports the well-being of Black and other people who are minoritized.

Nationally, he was one of the University of Texas at Austin's 2020-2021 Project MALES Scholars, and is an inaugural 2021-2023 Emerging Research Fellow for Educator Diversity with the Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity. He is also actively involved in various special interest groups and professional organizations, including R.A.C.E. Mentoring and the American Educational Research Association, where he serves as the Special Events Coordinator for the Critical Examination of Race, Ethnicity, Class and Gender in Education special interest group. Dr. Savage is also connected with several practitioner communities including the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color and the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education.

Samantha Silberstein 

Samantha Silberstein earned her Ph.D. in Higher Education with a minor in Inquiry Methodology from Indiana University, Bloomington and M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from William & Mary. Prior to pursuing graduate studies, Samantha worked in education and nonprofit management. She earned her B.S. in Natural Resources Recreation and Tourism from Colorado State University.

Her scholarship broadly explores students’ co-curricular and non-curricular learning, recognizing that the student learning experience is not isolated to the classroom but exists holistically. Samantha’s research agenda seeks to answer three questions: (1) How have co-curricular and noncurricular learning environment been shaped by systems of oppression?; (2) What is the role of student affairs pedagogy in student learning and development?; And (3) In what ways can methodology serve as a source of learning and liberation for participants? This research agenda translates to employing critical and innovative methodologies to uplift the voices and expertise of participants while simultaneously critiquing the dominate learning environments through a critical whiteness and feminist lens.

Outside of academia, Samantha enjoys hiking, collaging, and is a Trap-Neuter-Return volunteer and advocate.