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 Institute of Higher Education since 2013. Prior to that he was on the faculty of the College of Education at the University of Illinois, including coordinating the higher education program in the Department of Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership. 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 on historic and modern issues involving academic freedom, campus activism, professionalization, and unionization. Through examinations of faculty work and faculty as workers, student speech and activism, the interactions of national associations, and related topics, he considers the roles and experiences of stakeholders in U.S. higher education. A distinct line of work 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. In 2017–2018, he was a UGA Special Collections Libraries Faculty Teaching Fellow.

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, 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 Reese Cain
Monday, October 26, 2020 - 7:57am

Chronicle of Higher Education

Power of the Professoriate

Thursday, October 22, 2020 - 4:10pm

By Tim Cain, Associate Professor of Higher Education

Tuesday, October 20, 2020 - 11:18am

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

Thursday, September 24, 2020 - 1:58pm

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 of…

Wednesday, February 26, 2020 - 11:32am

Megan Zahneis interviewed Tim Cain for her article "The Latest Assault on Tenure," published in The Chronicle of Higher Education on February 16, 2020. Zahneis profiles a tenured history professor at Centenary College, who was released in December…

Tuesday, May 21, 2019 - 8:20am

An article, "Influence without Bargaining: Unionization at the University of Wisconsin, 1930–1957," by Dr. Cain and Phil Wilkinson appears in the May 2019 issue of Labor: Studies in Working Class History. Their research explores effective efforts to…

Wednesday, April 3, 2019 - 12:09pm

In addition to the large group of IHE faculty and students who presented papers at the AERA conference in Toronto (April 5-8), Noble Jones (PhD 2018) received the 2019 Outstanding Dissertation Award from AERA's Division J, and Associate Professor Tim Cain was…

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.