Research News

TIPSHEET: Vanderbilt higher education experts presenting new research on community colleges, student retention and more in New York March 24-28

Higher education experts from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of education and human development will be presenting their latest research March 24-28 in New York City at the American Educational Research Association’s annual conference.

Vanderbilt’s Peabody College was ranked as the No. 3 education school in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in 2007.

To see abstracts from all Vanderbilt faculty presenting at AERA, go to and search the conference program for “Vanderbilt.”

Different universities use similar images and themes to reach donors and alumni
Peabody Assistant Dean for External Affairs Timothy Caboni and graduate student Eve Marie Proper will present their findings that various universities present themselves in fundraising campaign materials in similar ways, regardless of differences in their mission, suggesting a perceived universal appeal of certain images and messages.
Schedule: Monday, March 24, 12:50 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
New York Marriott Marquis Times Square / Broadway Ballroom, Broadway North, 6th Floor

The growth of community colleges
Assistant Professor of Higher Education William Doyle and research assistant Alexander V. Gorbunov will discuss their findings that community colleges have grown in response to changes in state populations and that states with a large number of other types of institutions of higher education saw slower growth. They found little support for theories that community colleges are contributing to the separation of students by social or economic class.
Schedule: Tuesday, March 25, 12:25 p.m. – 1:55 p.m.
New York Marriott Marquis Times Square / Duffy/Columbia Room, 7th Floor

GEAR UP not achieving goals
Graduate student Kristin McGrander and Associate Professor of Public Policy and Education Claire Smrekar will discuss their findings that the federal GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) program, which aims to prepare low-income students to attend and succeed in college, has had minimal effect on these students.
Schedule: Thursday, March 27, 8:15 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
Crowne Plaza Hotel Times Square / Room 509/510, 5th Floor

Schools shift spending to student goods and services when forced to rely on tuition and fees
Graduate students Eve Proper and Coby Myers will discuss their examination of “resource dependency theory,” an often-discussed but rarely tested theory that contends public colleges and universities spend funds based on the wishes of the funding source – be they donors, students paying tuition, or government agencies. The researchers found that when states cut appropriations or place caps on tuition, institutions shift their spending. In particular, as institutions become more dependent on tuition and fees, they shift their spending to emphasize goods and services that students can readily appreciate – former commuter institutions build dormitories; residential colleges add climbing walls. The research has significant policy implications for states making decisions about higher education funding.
Schedule: Thursday, March 27, 10:35 a.m. – 12:05 p.m.
Crowne Plaza Hotel Times Square / Room 1507, 15th Floor

Overhauling the Ed. D.

Associate Professor of Public Policy and Education Claire Smrekar will present the Peabody College model for revamping the professional doctorate in educational leadership. Peabody’s approach to the Ed. D. has been held up as a model of making the Ed. D. a meaningful and professionally oriented degree with clear distinction from the Ph. D.
Schedule: Thursday, March 27, 12:35 – 1:55 p.m.
Hilton New York / Concourse E, Concourse Level

Do state policies regarding college completion have a real impact on campuses?
Peabody Leadership, Policy and Organizations researchers William Doyle, John Braxton, Michael McLendon and Willis Jones will discuss their findings that state economic and geographic characteristics have a significant impact on an institution’s ability to promote student success, while state governance and political factors do not.
Schedule: Thursday, March 27, 4:05 p.m. – 5:35 p.m.
Crowne Plaza Hotel Times Square / Room 509/510, 5th Floor

Media Contact: Melanie Moran, (615) 322-NEWS