Skip to main content
Skip to main menu


Timothy Reese Cain

Blurred image of the arch used as background for stylistic purposes.
Associate Professor of Higher Education

Tim Cain has been an associate professor at the McBee Institute since 2013. Prior to that he was on the faculty of the College of Education at the University of Illinois, including coordinating 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 centers historic and modern issues involving academic freedom, campus activism, and unionization. Recent work has focused on lawsuits undertaken to protect LGBTQI+ students' rights. A distinct line of scholarship explores teaching, learning, and student outcomes assessment.

Professor Cain's work has appeared in leading outlets across education and multiple subfields of history. Among them are 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.


Hevel, Michael S., and Cain, Timothy Reese. "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.

Events featuring Timothy Reese Cain
University of Rijeka

Drs. Tim Cain and Leslie Gordon will present a 16-hour mini-course at the University of Rijeka in Croatia on May 5-8, entitled Issues in the Professionalization of Professoriate: Teaching and Working in Global Universities. More than 50 participants are expected to attend the three-day sessions, covering curriculum planning and evaluation, student…

News Featuring Timothy Reese Cain
Tuesday, April 25, 2023 - 12:56pm

In fall 2022, as academic workers undertook strikes to improve their compensation and conditions, multiple media outlets tapped McBee Institute Professor Tim Cain’s expertise on unionization to better understand and convey the events.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023 - 8:57am

by Jewel Caruso

Since the beginning of the UC Strikes at the end of 2022, Tim Cain, associate professor at McBee, has provided his expertise throughout the discussions in major media outlets. Cain studies campus activism, academic freedom, and…

Tuesday, November 29, 2022 - 11:09am

by Jewel Caruso

Timothy R. Cain, associate professor at the McBee Institute, provides context and insight in a Time article covering the ongoing strikes at the University of California, "How the. University of California Strikes Could Reshape…

Tuesday, September 13, 2022 - 8:39am

by Jewel Caruso

Tim Cain, professor, co-authors the article "The queer student affairs career of Stephen Lenton, 1970-1980," with Michael Hevel. They extensively examined and drew from Lenton's papers to reconstruct his LGBTQIA+ advocacy when he was a…

Friday, April 1, 2022 - 10:27am

Timothy R. Cain is quoted in the Chronicle article, “What That Ad for the Unpaid Job at UCLA May Have Been About” (March 21, 2022).

Tuesday, November 30, 2021 - 3:32pm

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.

Monday, November 22, 2021 - 2:58pm

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

Monday, November 8, 2021 - 9:50am

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

Monday, September 20, 2021 - 8:06am

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.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021 - 8:11am

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).

Support us

We appreciate your financial support. Your gift is important to us and helps support critical opportunities for students and faculty alike, including lectures, travel support, and any number of educational events that augment the classroom experience. 

Click Here to Learn More About Giving

Every dollar given has a direct impact upon our students and faculty.