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James C. Hearn

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Professor Emeritus 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.

Professor Hearn served as a consulting or associate editor or editorial board member for Research in Higher Education, Educational Researcher, the Journal of Higher Education, the Review of Higher EducationTeachers College Record, and Sociology of Education. He also served as a section editor for the annual volume Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research.

Professor Hearn received the Distinguished Research Award of Division J of the American Educational Research Association. From the Association for the Study of Higher Education, he received the Excellence in Public Policy of Higher Education Award of the Council on Public Policy in Higher Education and the Howard R. Bowen Distinguished Career Award.

Curriculum Vitae:
  • 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.


Suggs, W., Trifiletti, J., Monday, A., & Hearn, J.C. (2024). Institutional effects of adding football: A difference-in-difference analysis. Research in 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.

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

In a broad survey of master’s and doctoral institutions spanning the decade around the 2008 financial crisis, Jim Hearn and Rachel Burns (PhD 2018) found no evidence that the tenure structure leads to inefficiencies in budget.

In an essay, "Reframing Decision Making in the Current Crisis," published by the TIAA Institute, Jim Hearn challenges industrial production rubrics and labels often applied to gage the efficiency and effectiveness of higher education…

PhD student Ijaz Ahmad presented a paper with Jim Hearn at the 36th European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS) Colloquium on July 2, 2020.

Their quantitative comparison of 21 European higher education systems is titled A Conceptual Framework…

The rapid rise in popularity and monetization of Esports (virtual simulations of sports, competitive games, and military operations) in American culture is drawing the attention of higher education leaders.

Kelly Rosinger (PhD, 2015), Andrew Belasco (PhD, 2014) & James Hearn examine the relationship between adoption of universal and targeted no-loan policies and the economic diversity at elite colleges. Their paper, “A Boost for the Middle Class: An Evaluation…

IN HER INSIGHTFUL McBee Lecture earlier this year, Dr. Michelle Asha Cooper reminded her listeners of a quotation from Dr. McBee herself affirming the future of higher education, “And we will make it better.” Drs. McBee and Cooper exemplify that hopeful spirit…

IHE professor and associate director James Hearn is among 13 higher education researchers and thought leaders nationally who have authored a series of papers to be released over the coming months by the Lumina Foundation.

Sheila Slaughter and James Hearn were recipients of prestigious awards at the 2014 ASHE conference held in Washington, D.C. last November.

Institute of Higher Education faculty members Sheila Slaughter and James C. Hearn have received prestigious awards from the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE). The awards were issued at the association’s annual conference on Nov. 19-22 in…

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