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Collier, Barringer, and Riffe Research on University Presidents Appears in The International Journal of Higher Education Research

Collier, Barringer, Riffe

by Jewel Caruso

Kate Collier (doctoral student), Sondra Barringer (former post doc), and Karley Riffe (alumnus) appear in The International Journal of Higher Education Research. The paper, "University presidents as agents of connection: an exploratory study of elite presidential ties in the United States, 2005-2020," explores how university presidents form relations between their institutions and external organizations. Using data from elite universities from 2005 to 2020, their results show growth in these connections over time.

Collier, Barringer, and Riffe note that our understanding of the connection between presidents and outside organizations is limited due to the lack of empirical students exploring the "creation, scope, patterns or consequences of these connections." To help address the gap, they mapped the connections of presidents. 

The researchers used literature on academic capitalism and the interdependencies between organizations, individuals, and environments. Through the use of social network analysis, descriptive statistics, and latent profile analysis, they were able to identify connections, track types of external organizations presidents use, and trace how the patterns might change over time.

Overall, the results of this study show that presidents make connections that increase over time "clearly demonstrating that university presidents can have ties to external organization and that his behavior appears to be diffusing across elite US universities." The presidents in the study developed ties with for-profit and nonprofit organizations, but they showed only limited ties to government organizations.

Collier, Barringer, and Riffe also find that this is not a "universal phenomenon" and that consequences affect universities with fewer connections. In their conclusion, they note that these connections could cause challenges and "reinforce existing inequalities." Meaning, those universities with more ties tend to start with greater resources.

To read the full article, please visit the Springer website.

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PhD, 2018
Postdoctoral Research and Teaching Associate, 2013-2016

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