Graduate Coordinator and Associate Professor of Higher Education

Contact Info

(706) 542-0573

Erik C. Ness is associate professor of higher education and graduate coordinator in the Institute of Higher Education. Previously, he served as an assistant professor and coordinator of the Higher Education Management program at the University of Pittsburgh and as a policy analyst for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. He earned a B.A. in political science at North Carolina State University, an M.A. in comparative and international education at Loyola University Chicago, and a Ph.D. in education policy from Vanderbilt University.

Professor Ness conducts research on higher education politics and policy. His research agenda primarily follows two paths: (1) public policy effects, especially on students, institutions, and state systems, and (2) public policymaking process, specifically the political dynamics associated with state-level higher education policy adoption. Although he has recently begun to pursue multiple policy issues along these paths, much of his research considers the adoption and effects of state-level merit scholarship programs, such as Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship program. Professor Ness’s current research projects examine research utilization—the extent to which policymakers rely on research evidence to craft policy—in the adoption and implementation of various state higher education policy initiatives, including an examination of the distinct role of intermediary organization on college completion policies that is funded by the William T. Grant Foundation. His research has also been supported by the Ford, Lumina, and Spencer foundations. 

Ness has published in the leading education policy and higher education journals including Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Educational Policy, The Journal of Higher Education, Research in Higher Education, and The Review of Higher Education.Professor Ness also serves on the editorial boards for Research in Higher Education and Education Law and Policy Review. Ness has consulted on projects related to higher education finance and student access in Georgia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia. 

Education:
  • Ph.D., Education Policy, Vanderbilt University
  • M.A.,Comparative and International Education, Loyola University Chicago
  • B.A., Political Science, North Carolina State University

Gandara, D., Rippner, J.A. & Ness, E.C. (2017). Exploring the ‘How’ in Policy Diffusion: National Intermediary Organizations’ Roles in Facilitating the Spread of Performance-Based Funding Policies in the States. The Journal of Higher Education, 88(5), 701-725.

Ness, E.C. (2010). The Role of Information in the Policy Process: Implications for the Examination of Research Utilization in Higher Education Policy. In Smart, J. (ed.), Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research. Dordrecht: Springer.

Ness E.C., Tandberg D.A. & McLendon M.K. (2015). Interest Groups and State Policy for Higher Education: New Conceptual Understandings and Future Research Directions. In: Paulsen, M. (ed), Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research. Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, vol 30. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

Ness, E.C., Deupree, M.M. & Gandara, D. (2015). Campus Responses to Outcomes-Based Funding in Tennessee: Robust, Aligned, and Contested. Nashville: Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

Ness, E.C. and Gandara, D. (2014). Ideological Think Tanks in the States: An Inventory of their Prevalence, Networks, and Higher Education Policy Activity. Educational Policy, 28(2), 258–280.

Research Interests:

Professor Ness conducts research on higher education politics and policy. His research agenda primarily follows two paths: (1) public policy effects, especially on students, institutions, and state systems, and (2) public policymaking process, specifically research utilization and the political dynamics associated with state-level higher education policy adoption.

Grants:

William T. Grant Foundation (with J.C. Hearn), RFP for Understanding the Acquisition, Interpretation, and Use of Research Evidence in Policy and Practice, 2013-2016 
The Distinct Role of Intermediary Organizations in Fostering Research Utilization for State College Completion Policy ($350,000)

University of Georgia, Office of the Vice President for Research, Faculty Research Grants Program(FRG), 2010-2011 
Use of Research Evidence in State Higher Education Finance Policy ($10,302)

Spencer Foundation, 2009-2010
Research Utilization in the Adoption of State Merit Aid Programs ($39,626)

Falk Foundation (with R. Bangs, L. Davis, W. Elliot), 2008
Forecasted outcomes and costs of three basic options for the Pittsburgh Promise
University of Pittsburgh, Center on Race and Social Problems
($25,000)

The Pittsburgh Foundation (with R. Bangs, L. Davis, W. Elliot), 2008
Pittsburgh Promise eligibility rates by race, gender, and income University of Pittsburgh, Center on Race and Social Problems ($25,000)

Lumina Foundation for Education, 2005-2006
ASHE/Lumina Dissertation Fellowship ($14,000)

Thursday, July 11, 2019 - 11:15am

A new article by Paul Rubin (PhD 2017) and Erik Ness is available online from Higher Education Policy. The research appeared in the Online First site on July 8.

Thursday, May 23, 2019 - 9:59am

Denisa Gandara (PhD 2016) and Erik Ness have a research article in the Journal of Higher Education, "Ideological Think Tanks and the Politics of College Affordability in the States." Gandara and Ness