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Faculty Research - 2013

Perhaps no educational concern is more important than student access, choice, success, and attainment.

Commitment to research is deeply embedded in the DNA of the Institute. Georgia higher education leaders established the Institute in 1964 to “study the rapidly changing environment of higher education and to assist Georgia colleges and universities” in improving their academic quality and operations.1 As the Institute’s first director put it in a letter to a colleague, a major concern was “developing some honest to God research in the field (as you know, there has been very little).”2 The initiation of formal graduate studies shortly afterwards brought an additional mission to the Institute, while also boosting its existing research efforts. Very quickly, doctoral students became key participants in an expanding array of scholarly and applied investigations.

From the beginning, the Institute’s research efforts have been informed by work in such core fields as policy studies, management, history, economics, political science, and sociology. This tradition distinguishes the Institute from other higher-education programs more centered around the fields of education and psychology. IHE’s expansive disciplinary “toolkit” is employed toward building greater understanding of colleges and universities and greater effectiveness, efficiency, and equity in their operations. As a result, research here often brings novel disciplinary perspectives to familiar educational concerns.

Perhaps no educational concern is more important than student access, choice, success, and attainment. This past year has brought wide-ranging work examining these student-level issues. Professor González Canché is employing advanced methods from geography, statistics, and information sciences to study college attendance patterns. Professor Toutkoushian has studied the realities of the returns to college attendance as well as the costs and effects of early-college enrollment policies. Professors Ness and Hearn’s new grant to examine college-completion patterns and related policies across several states will employ theories and ideas from political science and policy studies. Professor Webber has studied the influences of programs providing undergraduate students with research opportunities. Professor Morris coordinates a multi-site program providing college planning and counseling services to high-school students across the state of Georgia. And, importantly, the Institute houses the state Board of Regents’ annual awards program for institutions offering effective incentives to spur students toward obtaining their college degrees. Often, Institute research and service efforts involve multidisciplinary teams: for example, several of our faculty have worked with College of Education faculty to blend developmental and social-scientific perspectives in studies of student achievement and attainment.

Through such disparate projects, research in the Institute considers policy-significant concerns from varied angles. Each Institute faculty member has distinctive disciplinary and methodological expertise, but we work hard to look beyond those boundaries, maintaining open minds about new ideas to examine and new connections to be made. The overview below of some recent and ongoing IHE research makes that pattern clear.

Professor Tim Cain’s work focuses on historical labor-force issues relating to faculty and graduate-students. He is currently completing a book examining union history in higher education from the first AFT local on a college campus in 1918 to the 1980 Yeshiva decision, which severely limited unions at private colleges. His historical research also has led to recently published journal articles on faculty unionization at Howard University and on the American Federation of Teachers in the years before World War II.  In other work, he has recently produced a journal article on college student presses in the era between the World Wars and has a forthcoming book chapter on anti-communist efforts affecting U.S. education in the first half of the twentieth century. Professor Cain has also been working with the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment as part of a team surveying provosts on assessment practices on their college campuses.

Professor Manuel González Canché has pursued a variety of topics in his research, including academic networks, student loan debt, language issues in education, and the utility of geostatistical analysis in studying influences on institutional and student behaviors. In recent journal articles, he has examined the effects of faculty’s academic networks on their loyalty to higher education institutions, the impacts of restrictive language policies in education, and career capital in community colleges. At the annual AERA meeting, Professor Gonzalez participated in a symposium on Latino policy priorities in education and made two research-based presentations, one titled “Enriching traditional college persistence and success frameworks using virtual communities in the two-year sector” and the other titled “Riding the social media wave: Assessing and understanding the tides of technology in relation to college student experiences.” Professor González Canché has been active in grant-supported research. He serves as a consultant on Professor Sheila Slaughter’s recently funded three-year NSF grant, and serves as co-PI on an Institute of Education Sciences grant with UGA College of Education Professor Pedro Portes – that project examines approaches to improving the academic achievements of second-language speakers. In much of his work, Professor González Canché has engaged IHE doctoral students. He has helped secure external funding to support two of them, and has also started a research roundtable to explore with students the empirical effects of AP course-taking in high school on subsequent academic outcomes.

Professor Jim Hearn has continued his research focus on organization, governance, and policy in higher education. For the journal Science and Public Policy, he co-authored with Georgia Tech professor Aaron Levine and recent IHE graduate Austin Lacy an article titled “The origins of human embryonic stem cell policies in the U.S. states.” For a book edited by recent McBee lecturer John Thelin of the University of Kentucky, Professor Hearn contributed a chapter on higher education’s increasing role in reproducing inequality in the society. With recent IHE graduate Jim Morrison, he contributed a chapter to a book on operations research and management science. With Michael McLendon of Southern Methodist University, he contributed a chapter on governance research to Michael Bastedo’s book on higher-education organization. He also produced with IHE graduate student Mary Milan Deupree and Austin Lacy two reports for the publication series of the TIAA-CREF Institute, both focused on the growth of the contingent faculty workforce in U.S. higher education. He made presentations at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education with IHE graduate students Andrew Belasco and Jarrett Warshaw and presentations at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association with Lacy and with IHE graduate students Belasco, Deupree, and Kelly Ochs Rosinger. Currently, he has several pieces in press, including a chapter for a new book on college access co-authored with IHE student Anthony Jones, an article with Lacy and Warshaw on the emergence of state research and development tax-credit policies for the Economic Development Quarterly, and an article with McLendon and Lacy on the emergence of state “eminent scholars” programs, to appear in the Journal of Higher Education.

Professor Erik Ness continues to focus major attention on the use of research evidence in the policymaking process. At the 2012 ASHE annual conference, Ness presented two papers with IHE graduate students on this topic. With Mary Milan Deupree, he presented “‘A No-Policy State:’ Research use in Pennsylvania higher education finance decisions.” With Denisa Gándara, he presented “Ideological think tanks in the states: An inventory of their prevalence, networks, and higher education policy activity,” which has been accepted in the Politics of Education Association’s special issue of Educational Policy, January 2014. This past summer, Professor Ness was awarded a three-year grant from the William T. Grant Foundation to study The Distinct Role of Intermediary Organizations in Fostering Research Utilization for State College Completion Policy. This project will examine the influence of the Southern Regional Education Board and Complete College America in five southeastern states. Professor Jim Hearn will serve as his co-principal investigator and IHE doctoral student Denisa Gándara will be the graduate assistant for the new project. In other work, Professor Ness co-authored with David Tandberg a 2013 article in the Journal of Higher Education titled “The determinants of state capital expenditures for higher education: How capital project funding differs from general fund appropriations.” He also is working with Denisa Gándara and Mary Deupree on a Ford Foundation-funded project with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to examine campus responses to Tennessee’s new outcomes-based funding formula.

Professor Sheila Slaughter’s research on a variety of issues relating to academic capitalism has led to numerous publications and several honors. With former IHE faculty member Scott Thomas, recently graduated sociology student Dave Johnson, and arriving IHE post-doc Sondra Barringer, Professor Slaughter produced a 2012 article for the Journal of Higher Education titled “Institutional conflict of interest: The role of interlocking directorates in the scientific relationships between universities and the corporate sector.” With recent IHE graduate Charlie Mathies, she produced for the journal Research Policy “University trustees as channels between academe and industry: Toward an understanding of the executive science network.” With recent IHE graduate Barrett Taylor and recent IHE post-doc Brendan Cantwell, she authored for the Journal of Higher Education “Quasi-markets in US higher education: the sciences, humanities and institutional revenues.” With Taylor, IHE Fellow Larry Leslie, and Liang Zhang, she produced “How do revenue variations affect expenditures within research universities?” for Research in Higher Education. With Cantwell, she produced “Transatlantic moves to the market: Academic capitalism in the US & EU” in 2012 for Higher Education. Finally, with recent IHE graduate Jennifer Olsen, she produced a book chapter titled “Forms of capitalism and creating world class universities.” This past summer, she began work on a new NSF-funded grant with Barrett Taylor as co-PI, titled The Executive Science Network: University Trustees and the Organization of University-industry Exchanges. Professor Slaughter’s research has consistently engaged graduate students and alumni. Notably, two of her doctoral advisees, Leasa Weimer and Jennifer Olson, have won Fulbright awards and post-docs in recent years. In recognition of her extraordinary contributions to higher-education research, Professor Slaughter was named in 2012 a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association.

Professor Rob Toutkoushian is co-authoring a book with Mike Paulsen of the University of Iowa on the economics of higher education and continues his work on an analysis of the effects of Indiana’s Twenty-first Century Scholars program on access to higher education. Several of Professor Toutkoushian’s projects involve Institute doctoral students: with Jennifer Rippner, he is comparatively investigating faculty salaries at public and private institutions, with Dennis Kramer, he has a forthcoming book chapter on faculty compensation, with Kelly Ochs Rosinger, he is examining effects of state merit-aid programs on institutional selectivity and enrollments, with Hyejin Choi and Jarrett Warshaw, he is studying the influences of graduate program reputation on career outcomes for faculty, with James Byars (and Professor González Canché), he is examining the effects of nonresident market size on tuition at public institutions, and with Michael Trivette, he has a forthcoming article for the Journal of Education Finance titled “Accounting for risk of non-completion in private and social rates of return to higher education.” In other work, Professor Toutkoushian has worked with Nick Hillman of the University of Utah to produce a recent Review of Higher Education article, “The impact of state appropriations and grants on access to higher education and state outmigration.” Finally, with Bill Becker of Indiana University, he has a forthcoming chapter in Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research titled “On the meaning of markets in higher education.” In recognition of Professor Toutkoushian’s many contributions to the field of institutional research, he was named the 2013 recipient of the Sidney Suslow award of the Association for Institutional Research.

Professor Karen Webber continues to work on a variety of projects relating to faculty careers, institutional research, and undergraduate research outcomes. Two articles recently appeared in Research in Higher Education, a sole-authored article titled “The role of institutional research in a high-profile study of undergraduate research” and a co-authored article titled “Student and faculty engagement in undergraduate research.” With IHE graduate Kyle Tschepikow, Professor Webber authored “The role of learner-centered assessment,” which appeared in the journal Assessment in Education. A paper with former IHE post-doctoral associate Dr. Lijing Yang entitled “Changes in US- and foreign-born faculty” has recently been accepted for the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management. Two sole-authored papers have also been recently accepted for publication, “Cultivating the future of graduate education” for Planning for Higher Education and “Research productivity of science and engineering faculty” for the Journal of the Professoriate. Finally, her chapter on faculty use of assessment practices will appear in a new volume on teaching and learning in higher education.


1N. Midgette, The History of the Institute of Higher Education (1964-1984), p. 13. Athens, GA: Institute of Higher Education, University of Georgia, 1990.

2Ibid., p. 22.

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