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Zell and Shirley Miller Graduate Fellow 2013

Elisabeth Hughes

Jennifer Rippner has been immersed in education policy since she graduated with a BA in political science from the honors program at the University of Florida followed by a JD from the university’s Levin College of Law. After moving from Florida where she was director of the Florida Charter School Accountability Center, Rippner managed Georgia’s charter school program at the Department of Education and was a board member for NACSA. After three years as Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue’s education advisor and executive director of Georgia’s Office of Student Achievement, she was appointed to the Georgia Charter Schools Commission, and also served as a senior policy and legal advisor for Education Counsel, LLC, an education law and policy firm. In 2012, Governor Nathan Deal appointed her to the new State Charter Schools Commission.

Intrigued by the interdisciplinary aspect of UGA’s Institute of Higher Education’s programs and wanting to do more policy research, she enrolled in the Ph.D. program. A student of Dr. James Hearn, Rippner is serving as a graduate research assistant in the UGA Provost’s Office, where she represented the provost in the College Board’s Affinity Network to implement common core standards, and where she is coordinating the University System of Georgia’s College Completion Incubator, a competitive grant program designed to increase college completion rates through funding institutional innovations. Rippner ‘greatly appreciates the intellectual rigor, freedom and encouragement to explore personal research interests, and practical experience that is found within the IHE. The faculty and staff are at the top of their fields as well as sincerely interested in students, which is a unique combination!’

The Zell and Shirley Miller Graduate Fellowship has been awarded annually since 2005 to the graduate student who shows great promise for a future career in higher education. The fellowship has enabled Rippner to travel to Minnesota and Illinois to conduct interviews for her dissertation, a three-state case study titled “How State P20 Councils further K12 and Higher Education Collaboration toward College Completion.”

When she graduates in December 2013, Jennifer Rippner would love to be a faculty member at an institution teaching and researching policy on “how to make an impact on education in a political and resource-restricted world.” Few new faculty members start out with such a depth of experience in their chosen field.

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Lecturer, Indiana University School of Education and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Higher Education, UGA

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