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James C. Hearn

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Interim Director and Professor of Higher Education

Professor Hearn holds a Ph.D. in the sociology of education and an M.A. in sociology from Stanford University. He also holds an M.B.A. in finance from the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) and an A.B. from Duke University. Prior to initiating his academic career, he worked as a financial analyst at a bank, as an administrator at a small private college, as a program research director at the American College Testing program, and as a policy analyst and project director at a Washington, D.C.-area consulting firm. In his subsequent academic career, he served as a faculty member at the University of Minnesota and Vanderbilt University in addition to the University of Georgia.

At present, Professor Hearn serves as a consulting editor for Research in Higher Education.  In the past, he has served as an associate editor of the Educational Researcher and Research in Higher Education and on the editorial boards of the Journal of Higher Education, the Review of Higher EducationTeachers College Record, and Sociology of Education.  He has also served as a section editor for the annual volume Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research.

Professor Hearn is a past recipient of the Distinguished Research Award of Division J of the American Educational Research Association. In 2005, he was named a TIAA Institute Fellow. In 2014, he was presented with the Excellence in Public Policy of Higher Education Award by the Council on Public Policy in Higher Education of the Association for the Study of Higher Education. In 2023, the Association for the Study of Higher Education named him that year's recipient of the Howard R. Bowen Distinguished Career Award.

Curriculum Vitae:
214 Meigs Hall
Phone Number:
Other Affiliations:
  • Ph.D., Sociology of Education, Stanford University 1978
  • M.A., Sociology, Stanford University 1976
  • M.B.A., Finance, University of Pennsylvania (Wharton School) 1970
  • A.B., Duke University 1968
Research Interests:

Professor Hearn focuses his research on organization and policy in postsecondary education. His research has appeared in sociology, economics, and education journals, as well as in several edited books. 


Principal Investigator (2020-21). Impacts of the Pandemic on Access-oriented Private Colleges. TIAA Institute.

Principal Investigator (2016). Workforce Flexibility and Strategic Outcomes in Colleges and Universities. TIAA Institute.

Co-Principal Investigator with E. Ness (2013-2016). The Distinct Role of Intermediary Organizations in Fostering Research Utilization for State College Completion Policy.  W.T. Grant Foundation.

Principal Investigator (2010). Emerging Developments in Faculty Career Contexts. TIAA-CREF.

Co-Principal Investigator with S. Slaughter (2009-2010). Centers, Universities, and the Scientific Innovation Ecology. National Science Foundation.

Co-Principal Investigator with Maryann Feldman (2007-2009). State Science Policies: Modeling Their Origins, Nature, Fit, and Effects on Local Universities. National Science Foundation.

Received for 2004-2006 funding from the National Postsecondary Education Cooperative for an analysis of governmental and institutional policy influences on student success in postsecondary education and for coordination of series of related student-success studies.

Received for 2003-2004 funding from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for a study of the financing of the humanities in U.S. higher education.

Ness, E.C., Rubin, P.G., Gándara, D., & Hearn, J.C. (2023). Political volatility in state commitment to college completion efforts. In J.A. Delaney (Ed.), Volatility in state spending for higher education (pp. 173-198). Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association.

Warshaw, J.B. & Hearn, J.C. (2022). The evolving U.S. public research university: Critical organizational shifts in neoliberal context. In J.E. Cote & S. Pickard (Eds.), Handbook of the sociology of higher education, 2nd edition (pp. 44-60). London: Routledge.

Hearn, J.C. & Burns, R. (2021). Contingent faculty employment and financial stress in public universities.  Journal of Higher Education

Gándara, D. & Hearn, J.C. (2019).  College completion, the Texas way: An examination of the development of college completion policy in a distinctive political culture.  Teachers College Record, 121 (1).

Rosinger, K.O., Belasco, A.S. & Hearn, J.C. (2019). A Boost for the Middle Class: An Evaluation of No-Loan Policies and Elite Private College EnrollmentJournal of Higher Education, 90(1), 27-55.

Hearn, J.C., Suggs Jr., D.W., & May-Trifiletti, J. (2018). Taking the Field: Intercollegiate Athletics on CIC Campuses. Washington, D.C.: Council of Independent Colleges.

Hearn, J.C. & Ciarimboli, E.B. (2017). Institutional strategy and adaptation.  In C.C. Morphew and J.M. Braxton (Eds.), The challenge of independent colleges: Moving research into practice (pp. 204-228).  Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Hearn J.C., McLendon M.K., & Linthicum K.C. (2017). Conceptualizing State Policy Adoption and Diffusion. In Paulsen M. (Ed.), Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research. Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, Volume 32 (pp. 309-354). New York: Springer.

Hearn, J.C. (2017). Sunshine Laws in Higher Education. Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, State Policy Brief.

Belasco, A.S., Rosinger, K.O., & Hearn, J.C. (2015). The Test-Optional Movement at America’s Selective Liberal Arts Colleges: A Boon for Equity or Something Else? Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 37(2), 206–223. 

Hearn, J.C. & Belasco, A.S. (2015). Commitment to the Core: A Longitudinal Analysis of Humanities Degree Production in Four-Year Colleges. Journal of Higher Education 86(3), 387-416.

Hearn, J.C. & Warshaw, J.B. (2015). Mission-Driven Innovation An Empirical Study of Adaptation and Change among Independent Colleges. Washington, D.C.: Council of Independent Colleges.

Hearn, J.C. (2003). Diversifying Campus Revenue Streams: Opportunities and Risks. Washington, DC: American Council on Education.

Courses Regularly Taught:
Events featuring James C. Hearn
online event

Join Dr. Jim Hearn for a discussion of ways that private colleges are addressing on-going and emerging challenges as we plan for summer and fall.

Friday, April 30, at 1:00

Our Zoomtables rely on participant involvement, so please come prepared to talk about research or current approaches taken to maintain quality of instruction, enrollments…

News Featuring James C. Hearn

From press release:

James C. Hearn, professor of higher education and interim director of the Louise McBee Institute of Higher Education, received the Howard R. Bowen Distinguished Career Award from the Association for the Study of Higher Education.

Former students returned for the announcement of the endowment to support the James C. Hearn Lectureship during the Institute's annual awards and recognition luncheon.

The foundational gift was made in honor of the interim director’s commitment to…

by Suzanne R. Graham

The annual awards and recognitions luncheon is a highlight of the year for the McBee Institute’s faculty and staff. In addition to honoring donors, who contributed directly to student and success, and celebrating student and faculty…

Professor Erik Ness co-edited an in-depth look at the current state of research on education policymaking in Canada, the United States, and Western Europe.

by Jewel Caruso

by Jewel Caruso

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) recently released the book, Volatility in State Spending for Higher Education edited by Jennifer A. Delaney.

James C. Hearn, associate director and professor in the Louise McBee Institute of Higher Education, has agreed to serve as the Institute’s interim director, effective July 1, 2022. 

by Jewel Caruso

On April 30th, IHE professor Dr. Jim Hearn led a roundtable discussion to explore how private four-year colleges have maintained access and enrollments while facing financial and pandemic challenges. The two dozen participants in the forum were all graduates,…

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