Degrees of Difficulty: Can American Higher Education Regain Its Edge?
About This Event
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Over the past two years, policymakers and advocates have laid out ambitious goals for American higher education. Ranging from President Obama's desire for the United States to be once again the most educated country in the world, to the Gates Foundation's effort to double the number of low-income individuals with a postsecondary degree, this bold agenda for boosting college completion rates has garnered considerable attention. Yet these goals raise serious questions about the policy changes necessary to accomplish them and the obstacles that may stand in the way. To identify the challenges and opportunities that surround the push to make American higher education more productive, AEI commissioned new research from eleven of the country's leading thinkers on postsecondary policy. At this event, led by AEI's Andrew P. Kelly and Mark Schneider, presenters and discussants will explore what we know about raising degree completion rates, the policy issues that currently hinder progress, and what can be learned from state-level reform strategies.
8:30 a.m.
Registration and Breakfast
MARK SCHNEIDER, American Institutes for Research and AEI
Panel I: Where Do We Stand and How Can We Improve?
MATTHEW CHINGOS, Brookings Institution
ARTHUR HAUPTMAN, Public Policy Consultant
DEWAYNE MATTHEWS, Lumina Foundation
TRAVIS REINDL, National Governors Association
Panel II: The Performance and Potential of Sub-baccalaureate Programs
THOMAS BAILEY, Columbia University
DIANE AUER JONES, Career Education Corporation
SARA GOLDRICK-RAB, University of Wisconsin
MARK SCHNEIDER, American Institutes for Research and AEI
12:30 p.m.
Panel III: Identifying Policy Problems and Solutions
ERIC BETTINGER, Stanford University
ANGELA BOATMAN, Harvard Graduate School of Education
JOSIPA ROKSA, University of Virginia
SUSAN DYNARSKI, University of Michigan
MARK SCHNEIDER, American Institutes for Research and AEI
EDUARDO OCHOA, US Department of Education
Panel IV: Reform Lessons from the States
ELAINE BAKER, Community College of Denver
GERI MALANDRA, Kaplan University
RICHARD PETRICK, Ohio Board of Regents (retired)
GEORGE PERNSTEINER, Oregon University System
Adjournment and Reception
Speaker biographies

Thomas Bailey is the George and Abby O'Neill Professor of Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is also director of the Community College Research Center and the National Center for Postsecondary Research, both housed at Teachers College. An economist specializing in education, labor economics, and econometrics, Mr. Bailey has recently analyzed student access and success at community colleges, with a particular focus on the experiences of low-income and minority students. In June 2010, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appointed Mr. Bailey chairperson of the Committee on Measures of Student Success, which will develop recommendations for community colleges to comply with completion-rate disclosure requirements under the Higher Education Opportunity Act. In 1996, with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Mr. Bailey established the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Teachers College, which conducts a large portfolio of qualitative and quantitative research based on both fieldwork at colleges and analysis of national- and state-level data sets. The findings of much of CCRC's work are found in his most recent book, Defending the Community College Equity Agenda (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006).
Elaine DeLott Baker is senior counsel to the vice president for community outreach at the Community College of Denver and director of its accelerated remediation programs, FastStart@CCD and College Connection. She was principal investigator of the Colorado Community College System's Lumina Initiative for Performance and director of its Ready for College grant. Ms. Baker's current interests are the successful transition of low-skilled youth and adults to postsecondary education and training, the challenges of scaling innovation, and the interplay of policy and practice in postsecondary reform. She is a frequent presenter at national forums, webinars, and conferences on issues of acceleration, contextualization, and workforce development. Her recent publications include Technology Solutions for Developmental Math (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 2008), Calculating the Productivity of Innovation (Ford Foundation, 2009), and Contextual Teaching and Learning (Bay Area Workforce Collaborative and the California Community College System, 2009). Ms. Baker serves on the advisory boards of the National College Transition Network and the GED Testing Service and consults with numerous foundations, intermediaries, and public-interest groups. 

Eric Bettinger is an active researcher in the economics of higher education at Stanford University. His research is quantitative and uses statistical techniques to identify causal relationships between components in higher education and student outcomes. In recent years, he has published several articles focusing on the role of remediation in higher education. Mr. Bettinger has also published articles about the effects of need-based financial aid on student retention. Using statistical tools and exploiting “natural experiments,” his research suggests that need-based awards significantly improve students' likelihood of persisting in higher education after the first year. In other work, Mr. Bettinger has studied the role of adjunct faculty and other faculty characteristics in student outcomes. He has experience conducting randomized interventions to examine the factors that impact student success in primary and secondary school, and he helped conduct research on educational voucher programs in Colombia and the United States. Currently, Mr. Bettinger is involved in evaluating a randomized experiment that streamlines the financial-aid application process for low-income families in the United States.

Angela Boatman is a doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and holds an M.P.P in public policy and an M.A. in higher education, both from the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on evaluating college-access policies, particularly in the areas of postsecondary remediation and financial aid. Past projects include an examination of the effects of remedial and developmental courses in Tennessee and a multicohort evaluation of the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, both coauthored with Bridget Terry Long. Ms. Boatman's dissertation focuses on a multi-institution evaluation of innovations in the delivery of remedial courses in Tennessee. She previously worked at State Higher Education Executive Officers, researching state tuition, fees, and financial-aid policies. She also taught courses at Brown University on program evaluation and policy analysis. Ms. Boatman has participated in research workshops sponsored by the Ford Foundation, the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research, the Association for the Study of Higher Education, and the Spencer Foundation. She has presented at numerous conferences and received a Harvard Dean's Summer Fellowship in 2009 and a Ford Foundation Pre-Dissertation Fellowship for the quantitative study of higher education policy in 2009–2010.

Brian Bosworth is the founder and president of FutureWorks, a private consulting and public policy research firm based in Seattle, Washington, and focused on postsecondary education and regional economic development. Before establishing FutureWorks in 1999, Mr. Bosworth spent more than a decade in international development assistance work in Latin America and twelve years with executive leadership responsibility for state-based economic growth programs in the United States. He also worked as an independent consultant with several state and regional economic-development groups. FutureWorks offers policy research-and-development and consulting services on regional economic development, with a particular focus on issues of equity, sustainable growth, and skill development. Mr. Bosworth has directed several projects designing new approaches to regional workforce education and postsecondary education. These projects typically have involved research, policy analysis and development, and implementation engagement with development practitioners and educators. FutureWorks is now working with national and state organizations to develop and implement strategies to increase postsecondary completion and labor-market success for low-income youth and working adults.

Matthew Chingos is a fellow in the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution, a postdoctoral fellow at the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University, and a research associate and project manager at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. He studies education politics, economics, and policy at both the K–12 and postsecondary levels. Mr. Chingos's first book is Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America's Public Universities (Princeton University Press, 2009, with William G. Bowen and Michael S. McPherson). His current research examines teacher labor markets, class-size reduction policies, citizen perceptions of school quality, online learning, and the college choices of low-income students.

Susan Dynarski is an associate professor of education and public policy at the University of Michigan. She is a faculty research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and has been a visiting fellow at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and Princeton University. She is an editor of the Journal of Labor Economics and Education Finance and Policy. Ms. Dynarski's research focuses on charter schools, demand for private schooling, historical trends in inequality in educational attainment, and the optimal design of financial aid. Her previous research explored the impact of grants and loans on educational attainment and the distributional consequences of tax incentives for college saving. Ms. Dynarski has testified before the Senate Finance Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, and the President's Commission on Tax Reform. Her research has been funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the National Institute of Aging.

Sara Goldrick-Rab is an assistant professor of educational policy studies and sociology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and senior scholar at the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education. Her research on college access and success has been recognized by the William T. Grant Foundation's Faculty Scholars Award and the National Academy of Education's postdoctoral fellowship, and received more than $3 million in support. Recently, she was lead author of a Brookings Institution blueprint used to craft President Barack Obama's American Graduation Initiative. She codirects the Wisconsin Scholars Longitudinal Study, an experimental evaluation of the impact of need-based financial aid on college graduation.

Arthur M. Hauptman has been an independent public policy consultant specializing in higher education finance issues since 1981. An internationally recognized expert, he has written extensively on student financial aid, fee setting at public and private institutions, and the public funding of institutions in the United States and around the world. A consistent theme of his work is that public policies are more effective when these three key elements of higher education financing are linked systematically. In the United States, Mr. Hauptman has consulted with many federal and state agencies as well as higher education associations and institutions. He played key roles in developing the rationale for a number of federal programs, including direct student loans, income-contingent repayment, GEARUP, and tuition tax credits. For states, he has argued for counter-cyclical policies to address the adverse effects of recessions, tying public-sector tuition fees to general income growth rather than costs, and paying institutions on the basis of their performance. Internationally, he has consulted with the governments or funding bodies in more than two dozen industrialized and developing countries to develop financing strategies for tertiary education. 

Diane Auer Jones is currently the vice president for external and regulatory affairs at Career Education Corporation. Trained as a molecular biologist, Ms. Jones spent the first thirteen years of her career working as a laboratory researcher and community college biology professor before moving to a career in public policy, which began during her term as a program director at the National Science Foundation. From there she moved to Capitol Hill, where she was first a professional staffer and then acting staff director for the Research Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science. She spent several years as Princeton University's director of government affairs, but returned to government as deputy to the associate director for science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Ms. Jones was then nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate to serve as the assistant secretary for postsecondary education at the Department of Education. She has a deep interest in preserving the integrity and rich diversity of the American system of higher education, while also improving access and success for those students who have been underserved by traditional institutions and educational pathways. 

Andrew P. Kelly is a research fellow in education policy studies at AEI and a doctoral candidate in political science at the University of California–Berkeley. He oversees the higher education work of AEI's education policy department. His research focuses on higher education accountability, congressional policymaking, and political behavior. As a graduate student, Mr. Kelly was a National Science Foundation interdisciplinary training fellow and graduate student instructor. Previously, he was a research assistant at AEI, where his work focused on the preparation of school leaders, collective bargaining in public schools, and the politics of education. His research has appeared in Teachers College Record, Educational Policy, Policy Studies Journal, Education Next, Education Week, Insider Higher Ed, and various edited volumes.

Geri Hockfield Malandra was appointed as provost of Kaplan University in September 2010.  Previously, she founded and was principal of Malandra Consulting LLC, a company created to assist higher education leaders and connect stakeholders in developing and implementing outcomes-focused management, accountability, and policy initiatives. She served as senior vice president for leadership, membership, and policy research at the American Council on Education. Before this, Ms. Malandra was vice chancellor for strategic management for the fifteen-campus University of Texas System, where she led the development of its ten-year strategic plan, its first comprehensive accountability and performance reports, and a system-wide academic leadership institute. She also served as executive vice chancellor ad interim for academic affairs, overseeing the work of the nine universities. Her public service includes an appointment by Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to serve as a member and vice chair of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity. At the University of Minnesota, as associate vice provost, Ms. Malandra led the development of Minnesota's first comprehensive accountability reporting system, as well as policy initiatives and legislative reports on issues related to accountability, accreditation, academic program review, and planning issues. At Minnesota, she held earlier management and policy positions focused on faculty and research development and organizational improvement in the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Continuing Education. 

Dewayne Matthews is vice president for policy and strategy of the Lumina Foundation for Education. Mr. Matthews has served in various higher education leadership roles, including senior adviser to the president and vice president of the Education Commission of the States, director of programs and services for the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, and executive director of the New Mexico Commission on Higher Education. He has been a legislative staff member, faculty member, and university trustee, and he has worked with higher education institutions in Mexico, Canada, and Japan. Mr. Matthews began his career as a first-grade teacher in Taos, New Mexico. He received an honorary doctor of humane letters from Marycrest International University.

Eduardo M. Ochoa is assistant secretary for postsecondary education at the Department of Education. He is the secretary of education's chief adviser on higher education issues and administers more than sixty programs, including the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education. The Office of Postsecondary Education also runs the Byrd, Fulbright, Javits, and McNair programs and certifies all regional and national accreditation agencies so that they may qualify institutions to receive federal financial aid and Pell grants. Before joining the Department of Education, Mr. Ochoa was provost and vice president for academic affairs at Sonoma State University.

George Pernsteiner has been chancellor (and acting chancellor) of the Oregon University System since July 2004, leading its budget and legislative process, supporting and facilitating universities' efforts to achieve system goals and their educational missions, and creating partnerships among campuses, community colleges, and K–12 institutions. Mr. Pernsteiner's other career accomplishments include senior finance and administration positions with the University of California–Santa Barbara, Portland State University, the University of Oregon, the Oregon University System, and the City of Seattle.

Richard Petrick served the Ohio Board of Regents in a number of leadership roles for twenty years. He retired from the Regents in August 2010 as vice chancellor for finance and data management. Previously, Mr. Petrick served as budget director and associate vice chancellor for finance. Before joining the Regents, he worked for the Ohio General Assembly as an education finance analyst and division chief for the nonpartisan Legislative Budget Office. In the past ten years, Mr. Petrick focused much of his work on developing and implementing performance-based subsidy and financial-aid programs, improving efficiency and productivity, and raising revenue for agency and campus operations through grants and interagency and interstate initiatives. He has been a frequent contributor to national, regional, and state higher education initiatives, serving as a participant, presenter, or moderator at the State Higher Education Executive Officers and Midwest Higher Education Compact professional-development and policy-planning conferences, as well as many state, campus, and private initiatives, such as the Aspen Institute.

Travis Reindl oversees the postsecondary education work area in the National Governors Association's Center for Best Practices, concentrating on postsecondary access and completion. He is also the lead on the 2010–11 National Governors Association Chair's Initiative, which focuses on increasing college completion and productivity. He most recently served as state policy and campaigns director at CommunicationWorks LLC, a Washington, D.C., public affairs firm. From 2006 to 2008, he was program director at the Boston-based Jobs for the Future, where he led Making Opportunity Affordable. Previously, Mr. Reindl headed the state policy analysis unit at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and oversaw government relations and institutional research for the South Dakota Board of Regents. 

Josipa Roksa is assistant professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, with a courtesy appointment in the Curry School of Education. She is also a faculty affiliate at the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning and the Virginia Education Science Training Program. Ms. Roksa's research examines social stratification in educational and labor-market outcomes, with a focus on higher education. She is particularly interested in understanding how families transmit advantages to their children, how interactions between the educational system and the labor market produce unequal patterns of individual attainment, and whether and how much students are learning in higher education. Ms. Roksa is currently conducting various studies examining how young adults' transitions into work, marriage, and parenthood explain socioeconomic and racial/ethnic inequalities in college completion and subsequent labor-market outcomes. Moreover, with Richard Arum, she is conducting a large-scale study of learning in higher education, forthcoming in Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses (University of Chicago Press, 2011).

Mark Schneider is a visiting scholar at AEI and a vice president at the American Institutes for Research, based in Washington, D.C. He served as the US commissioner of education statistics from 2005 to 2008 and a deputy commissioner in the National Center for Education Research from 2004 to 2005. He is also a distinguished professor emeritus of political science at the State University of New York–Stony Brook. Mr. Schneider is the author of numerous articles and books on education policy. His most recent book is Higher Education Accountability (Palgrave, December 2010). He also wrote Charter Schools: Hope or Hype? (Princeton University Press, 2007) and Choosing Schools (Princeton University Press, 2000), which won the Policy Study Organization's Aaron Wildavsky Best Book Award. His current work focuses on accountability in higher education and charter schools.
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