Phillandra Samantha Smith
Assistant Professor


Phillandra Smith (she/her), Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Special Education and Critical Disability Studies in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leading at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education. She recently completed her Ph.D. in Special Education at Syracuse University (SU) where she also earned two Certificates of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Women’s and Gender Studies as well as Disability Studies. In her dissertation she used discourse analysis to surface the ways in which norms of whiteness operate in textbooks to erase the experiences of Black and Brown disabled students. Her research is aimed at identifying strategies and models to better integrate anti-ableist and anti-racist inclusive pedagogies and practices into teacher education. A second arm of her research engages with the inclusive higher education experiences of students with intellectual disability and their instructors.

Dr. Smith was one of two inaugural Home’s Scholars at SU and the Program Coordinator for SU’s Graduate School BIPOC Alliance for Excellence. Phillandra embraces joy, gratitude, creativity, balance, and collective care in her contributions to the struggle for an equitable education experience for marginalized students.

Instructional Interests

Dr. Smith teaches in the Special Education program.

Courses taught:

  • Foundations of Special Education
  • Instructional Methods for Students with High Incidence Disabilities

Scholarly Interests

  • Teacher education
  • Anti-racist and anti-ableist inclusive pedagogies and practices
  • Inclusive higher education
  • Critical disability studies
  • Disability and critical race theory (DisCrit)

Featured Publications

Myers, B., & Smith, P. (2022). Academic Accessibility in Inclusive Higher Education. Impact, Vol. 35 (1), Spring 2022

Smith, P., & Brozaitis, M. (in press). Teaching, assisting, reflecting: Our experience working together. In M. Gill & B. Myers (Eds.), Narrating higher education: Intellectual Disability. University of Minnesota Press

Banks, J., Smith, P., & Neal, D. (2022). Identity politics: Exploring DisCrit’s potential to empower activism and collective resistance. In D. Conner, B. Ferri & S. Annamma (Eds.), DisCrit expanded: Inquiries, reverberations & ruptures. NY: Teachers College Press.

Smith, P., Ashby, C., & Ferri, B. (2021). Interrogating assumptions about culture and disability: Becoming a critical and reflexive Educator. In E. Harkins, M. Fuller & L. Brusnahan (Eds.), Diversity, autism, and developmental disabilities: Guidance for the culturally responsive educator. Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities

Awards and Honors

  • Syracuse University Summer Dissertation Fellowship (2022)
  • Graduate Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Work (2022)
  • Marsha Smith Lewis Memorial Dissertation Scholarship (2021)
  • Syracuse University Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award (2021)
  • Syracuse University School of Education Research and Creative Grant Award (2021)
  • Joan N.Burstyn Endowed Research in Education Award for Collaborative Research (2021)
Phillandra Samantha Smith


University of Pittsburgh
5100 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
230 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260