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Outstanding Alumni – Chris Ferland (PhD, 2010)

Betz Kerley

 Chris Ferland is a futurist. If you want to know what is happening with higher education in Georgia, or if you want to know what the trends may be for the future, Chris is your go-to guy.

As a senior research associate at the University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents, Chris provides data and policy analyses, as well as data reporting, to members of the Board of Regents, federal and state legislatures, and senior members of the USG office staff. The Office of Research and Policy Analysis analyzes higher education and related state and national policy issues and their impact on the University System of Georgia.

With a BA and MS in Sociology, Chris began his career by teaching at North Georgia College and State University. Subsequently, he became an Agricultural Extension employee, working with county agents across the state to create educational workshops. “The idea of educating others while doing research stayed with me,” explains Chris. Then it was on to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, and the Office of Admissions and Enrollment Management at UGA. While serving in these positions, Chris became more and more interested in working with large data sets and searching for trends, which led him to pursue a degree from the Institute of Higher Education.

Reflecting on his time at the IHE, Chris says that under the tutorage of his professors he received a solid intellectual foundation to explore key issues facing higher education today.

“The opportunities to present research, travel abroad, and work with some of the greatest minds in the field was amazing. The courses in the doctoral program exposed me to multiple perspectives on various topics and helped me develop and strengthen my ability to step back and consider these issues.”

Ferland says that the courses included in the IHE program align well with challenges the USG faces on a daily basis.

“Understanding these topics in state and national arenas aids in my development of reports and has helped me to have a more thoughtful and questioning perspective when I analyze data.”

Ferland cautions, “The Institute is for students who are passionate about and really want to understand postsecondary education. Its recognition in the state and beyond as a leader in the study of higher education is outstanding.”

Chris Ferland may be the futurist, but his talents and abilities find daily application in the present. And he gives a large share of the credit for that to his time at the IHE.

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