IRHE Researchers

Joni Finney

Joni FinneyFor over 20 years, Dr. Finney has worked with state leaders to improve the public policies that govern higher education. She was vice president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education for the past ten years. Prior to that, Dr. Finney was with the California Higher Education Policy Center and the Education Commission of the States.

Dr. Finney is director of the Institute for Research in Higher Education (IRHE) and a Practice Professor at the Graduate School of Education of the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently directing a multi-state study, sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, to understand the relationship between a state’s policies for higher education and a state’s performance. Dr. Finney developed and directed the nation’s first biennial state-by-state report card for higher education, Measuring Up. She was principal author of the 50 state-by-state report cards, Measuring Up 2000-2008. She has worked with governors and legislators from more than 25 states and has testified before congressional committees on higher education policy. Dr. Finney co-authored Public and Private Finance of Higher Education: Shaping Public Policy for the Future and Designing State Higher Education Systems for a New Century. She is currently co-authoring a forthcoming book, Financing Higher Education in an Era of Global Challenge. Dr. Finney has written articles and opinion pieces for AGB Reports (American Governing Boards), The Chronicle of Higher Education, State Government News, Spectrum (The Council of State Governments), Change: The Magazine for Higher Learning, and Education Week.

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Laura Perna

Laura PernaDr. Laura W. Perna is Professor in the Graduate School of Education and faculty fellow at the Institute for Urban Research at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research draws on multiple theoretical perspectives and a variety of analytical techniques to understand the ways that social structures, institutional practices, and public policies enable and restrict college access and success, particularly for racial/ethnic minorities and individuals of lower socioeconomic status.

Perna serves or has served as a member of the technical review group for the GEAR UP Follow-up evaluation, the technical work group of the Upward Bound and Student Support Services Innovative Practices Study; the technical review panels for the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study; Beginning Postsecondary Student Survey; and the Baccalaureate and Beyond Survey; the Institute for Higher Education Policy’s Board of Directors; the American Council on Education’s Center for Policy Analysis Advisory Board; the National College Access Network Research to Practice Advisory Committee; and the Lumina Foundation for Education’s Research Advisory Committee. In addition, she serves or has served on the editorial boards of the American Educational Research Journal-Social and Institutional Analysis, Educational Researcher, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Journal of Higher Education, Research in Higher Education, Review of Higher Education, Academe, Higher Education Abstracts, Journal of College Student Development, Journal About Women in Higher Education, and the Journal of the Professoriate.

She is currently serving as vice president of the Postsecondary Education Division of the American Education Research Association and as project director of the Institute for Education Sciences-funded Pre-Doctoral Training Program in Interdisciplinary Methods for Field-Based Research in Education. She is a recipient of the 2003 Promising Scholar/Early Career Achievement Award from the Association for the Study of Higher Education, 2010 Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching from the University of Pennsylvania, and 2011 Robert P. Huff Golden Quill Award from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

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Patrick M. Callan

Pat CallanPatrick M. Callan is president of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan corporation founded in 1991. The Institute established and sponsored the California Higher Education Policy Center from 1992 to 1997 and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education from 1997 through June, 30, 2011. Mr. Callan served as president of both organizations.

Prior to his association with HEPI, Mr. Callan served as executive officer of state higher education boards and commissions in Montana, Washington, and California and as vice president of the Education Commission of the States. He has chaired the boards of the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. Mr. Callan has served as an advisor to national and regional organizations, state higher education boards and commissions, and governors’ offices and state legislative committees.

Callan is the author and coauthor of books and articles on education policy, educational opportunity, public accountability, financing of higher education, and public policy leadership. As president of the National Center, he oversaw the first report cards on the state-by-state and national performance of American higher education. The five Measuring Up report cards, issued biennially since 2000, have helped define national and state policy agendas.

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Michael Armijo

MillerMichael Armijo is an Institute of Education Sciences Pre-Doctoral Fellow and a third year Ph.D. student in Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. His research interests focus on the relationship between public policy and higher education performance outcomes. He is currently working on a multi-state case study that examines the connections between state policies and college preparation, participation, affordability, and completion. Before his graduate studies Armijo received a B.A. in Anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis, where he also worked as senior assistant director of Undergraduate Admissions.

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Christopher Miller

MillerChristopher Miller is a M.S.Ed student in Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. His research interests include access and affordability for traditionally underrepresented and underserved college-going students and student preparation for college and career success. Prior to beginning his graduate studies, Miller worked in college counseling at Georgetown Day School and in college admissions at Dickinson College. He serves on the Board of Trustees of The Wight Foundation, Inc. in Newark, NJ, a non-profit that provides scholarships and support to students attending boarding schools and college, a program from which he is a graduate. Miller received his B.A. in English with a concentration in African-American Studies from Oberlin College.

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Awilda Rodriguez

RodriguezAwilda Rodriguez is an Institute of Education Sciences Pre-Doctoral Fellow and a Ph.D. student in Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. She is currently working on a multi-state study in collaboration with National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education on how state policies influence state performance in higher education. Rodriguez's research interests include access issues for traditionally underrepresented students in higher education, particularly around college guidance and information. Prior to enrolling at Penn, she worked as an analyst for the New York City Department of Education as well as in the educational non-profit sector. She has an Ed.M. in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a B.S.E. in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University.

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Jamey Rorison

RorisonJamey Rorison is an Institute of Education Sciences Pre-Doctoral Fellow and a Ph.D. student in Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. In addition to his work on the IRHE state review project, he worked for The Education Trust in summer 2011 where he contributed to the Save Pell campaign. Rorison’s research interests include the role of federal and state financial aid policy as a means of facilitating access for traditionally underrepresented students and undergraduate student learning outcomes. Prior to beginning his graduate work, Rorison worked as a middle school language arts teacher in Maryland and as the curriculum developer for Summit Educational Group. He holds an M.S.Ed. in Higher Education from Penn GSE and a B.A. in Elementary Education from the University of Pennsylvania.

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