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Timothy R. Cain

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Professor of Higher Education

Tim Cain joined the faculty of the McBee Institute in 2013. Prior to that he was a faculty member at the University of Illinois and coordinated its higher education program. He earned his A.B. from Duke University, his M.A. from The Ohio State University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Much of Professor Cain’s research explores historic and modern issues involving academic freedom, student activism, and unionization in higher education. Recent work has focused on the changes in students' political engagement in the 1970s, including lawsuits undertaken to protect LGBTQ+ students' rights and battles over student voting rights after the passage of the 26th Amendment. A distinct line of scholarship has explored teaching, learning, and student outcomes assessment.

Professor Cain's work has appeared in leading outlets across education and multiple subfields of history, including AERA OpenHigher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, the History of Education Quarterly, Labor: Studies in Working Class History, Labor History, the Review of Higher Education, and Teachers College Record. He is also the author of Establishing Academic Freedom (Palgrave, 2012), Campus Unions: Organized Faculty and Graduate Students in U.S. Higher Education (ASHE Higher Education Report Series, Jossey-Bass, 2017), and, with colleagues from the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher Education (Jossey-Bass, 2015).

Professor Cain is an associate editor of the Review of Higher Education and formerly served in the same role for the History of Education Quarterly. He is on the Council of Scholars of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions, and is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Higher Education, the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, and Perspectives on the History of Higher Education. He is a past member of the advisory board of the ASHE Higher Education Monograph Series and of the editorial boards of the Review of Educational Research and the Review of Higher Education.

He was a UGA Special Collections Libraries Faculty Teaching Fellow in 2017–18, received an Outstanding Reviewer Award from AERA in 2018, and, with Michael S. Hevel, won the AERA Queer SIG Best Article Award in 2023.

Curriculum Vitae:
008 Meigs Hall
Phone Number:
  • Ph.D., Education, University of Michigan
  • M.A., Higher Education and Student Affairs, The Ohio State University
  • A.B., History, Duke University
Research Interests:

Tim Cain’s research includes examinations of both modern and historic issues involving college students, faculty, and academic administrators. He has published works on academic freedom and tenure, graduate student and faculty unionization, student activism, the rise of academic administration, learning outcomes assessment, and teaching and learning. Current projects include considerations of the history of faculty unionization and academic freedom in the the 21st century.


Timothy Reese Cain (PI), An Organizing Professoriate: Post-War Unionization in American Higher Education, Spencer Foundation, 2012-2013.

Brian Deal (PI), Nancy Ablemann (Co-PI), Gina Hunter (Co-PI), and Timothy Cain (Co-PI), Sustainable Campus Buildings and Grounds: Creating a  Research and Teaching Program through Ethnography of the University,  Provost Initiative on Teaching Advancement, UIUC, 2010-2011.

Nancy Abelmann, Rakesh Bhatt, Nick Burbules, Timothy Cain, and others, The Internationalization of U of I Undergraduates: Conceptualizing a  Transforming University, Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities Collaborative Research Projects Initiative, 2010-2011. 

Timothy Reese Cain (PI), “The Second Wave of Faculty Unionization: College Faculty and the American Federation of Teachers, 1928–1941,” Bureau of Educational Research, UIUC, 2009-2010.


Cain, Timothy Reese. "Accreditation, Academic Freedom, and Institutional Autonomy: Historical Precedents and Modern Imperatives." AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom, 14 (2023): 1–12.

Hevel, Michael S., and Timothy Reese Cain. “'We Didn’t Think it Would be Well Received': The Gay Alliance of Students’ Legal Victory over Virginia Commonwealth University, 1974­–1976." Historia y Memoria de la Educación, 18 (2023): 41–75.

Hevel, Michael S., and Timothy Reese Cain. "The Queer Student Affairs Career of Stephen M. Lenton, 1970–1980." Journal of Women and Gender in Higher Education 15, no. 3 (2022): 261–278. 

Cain, Timothy Reese, and Erin A. Leach. "Removing Faculty: Patterns and Processes of Retrenchment and Restructuring." AERA Open 7, no. 1 (2021): 1–13.   

Cain, Timothy Reese, and Michael S. Hevel. "'Gay People Pay Activity Fees Too': The Committee on Gay Education's Pioneering Legal Victories at the University of Georgia." Review of Higher Education 45, no. 1 (2021): 61–91.

Cain, Timothy Reese, and Rachael Dier. "Protests and Pushback: Women’s Rights, Student Activism, and Institutional Response in the Deep South.” History of Education Quarterly 60, no. 4 (2020): 546–580.

Cain, Timothy Reese. "Collective Bargaining and Committee A: Five Decades of Unionism and Academic Freedom." Review of Higher Education 44, no. 1 (2020): 57–58–85.  

Cain, Timothy Reese, and Philip Wilkinson. "Influence Without Bargaining: Unionization at the University of Wisconsin, 1930–1957." Labor: Studies in Working-Class History 16, no. 2 (2019): 99–122.

Cain, Timothy Reese. "‘Friendly Public Sentiment’ and the Threats to Academic Freedom.” History of Education Quarterly 58, no. 3 (2018): 428–435.

Cain, Timothy Reese. "Student Activists and Organized Labor.” In Rethinking Campus Life: New Perspectives on the History of College Students in the United States, edited by Christine A. Ogren and Marc A. VanOverbeke, 165–190. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

Cain, Timothy Reese. Campus Unions: Organized Faculty and Graduate Students in US Higher Education. ASHE Higher Education Report Series, Vol. 43, No. 3. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2017.

Kuh, George D., Stanley O. Ikenberry, Natasha A. Jankowski, Timothy Reese Cain, Peter Ewell, Pat Hutchings, and Jillian Kinzie. Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2015.

Cain, Timothy Reese. Establishing Academic Freedom: Politics, Principles, and the Development of Core Values. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

News Featuring Timothy R. Cain

Tim Cain's work is featured as the first chapter in a new book, Collective Bargaining in Higher Education: Best Practices for Promoting Collaboration, Equity, and Measurable Outcomes, edited by Daniel J. Julius and published by Routledge.

Research by Timothy Reese Cain and Erin Leach appears in AERA Open, "Removing Faculty: Patterns and Processes of Retrenchment and Restructuring."

Timothy Reese Cain started a new role as an associate editor of The Review of Higher Education in fall 2021.

Tim Cain and co-author Michael Hevel highlight an important and precedent-setting piece of the broader history of LGBTQ+ student rights on college campuses.

Dr. Eddie R. Cole visited the Institute virtually on Monday, February 8 to discuss the research and findings of his book, The Campus Color Line: College Presidents and the Struggle for Black Freedom (2020, Princeton University Press).

Associate Professor Timothy Reese Cain examines two sit-ins at the University of Georgia in a paper published in the November 2020 issue of History of Education Quarterly.

Chronicle of Higher Education

Power of the Professoriate

By Tim Cain, Associate Professor of Higher Education

A research paper by Tim Cain appears in the fall 2020 issue of Review of Higher Education.

Tim Cain provides expert commentary on college student activism in "Graduate Student Unions Push Back against Institutions' COVID-19 Policies, Perceived Unfair Treatment on Campus." The article chronicles higher education student strikes at the University…

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