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TIPSHEET: Vanderbilt experts available to comment on reauthorization of Higher Education Act

Vanderbilt University experts are available to comment on the issues and policies addressed by the reauthorized Higher Education Act, expected to be finalized by Congress in the next several days.

[Broadcast media note: Vanderbilt has a campus broadcast facility with a dedicated fiber optic line for live TV interviews and a radio ISDN line.]

Admissions, tuition and financial aid
Douglas Christiansen, associate provost for enrollment, dean of admissions and assistant professor of public policy and higher education, is available to talk about admissions, tuition, financial aid and the implications of the reauthorized Higher Education Act. Christiansen has spent the last 20 years in admissions leadership roles in top-tier public and private universities. He consults with universities throughout the United States on enrollment management and revenue generation and has conducted more than 60 consulting engagements working directly with presidents, trustees, enrollment professionals and faculty on enrollment-related issues.

Providing legal audio and video downloads
Matthew Jett Hall, assistant vice chancellor for information technology services and associate chief information architect, enterprise architecture, can discuss the impact on universities of the legislation’s strong urging of university-supported legal movie and music download services, the challenges universities face in managing illegal downloads, and the tools and policies available to universities that can help make a difference.

The economics of rankings
The legislation will require the U.S. Department of Education to publish an annual ranking of universities based on tuition and fees and increases in net price, tuition and fees. Malcolm Getz, associate professor of economics and director of undergraduate studies in economics, has extensively researched investing and choosing a college. He can discuss how students and parents can interpret and use these new rankings, how they can pick the right school, what questions they should ask to find the ideal school, payment options, financial aid and which advanced degrees give the best return on their investment. Getz is the author of Investing in College: A Guide for the Perplexed.

Student outcomes
John Braxton, professor of education, can discuss why students leave college without a degree and the eight key actions professors and college administrators need to take to boost college student success. In 2006, he was commissioned by the National Postsecondary Education Cooperative to write a report on student success and what must be done to promote it. He has published over 60 refereed journal articles and book chapters on the college student experience, the sociology of the academic profession, and how college courses are taught. Braxton and Vanderbilt faculty William Doyle and Michael McClendon were awarded a $261,000 two-year grant from the Lumina Foundation in 2006 to study state-level characteristics and policies impacting graduation rates.

Increased funding for primarily minority-serving institutions

The legislation includes increased funding for graduate programs at institutions that serve large minority populations. Stella Flores, assistant professor of public policy and education, can discuss the impact financial aid policies have on immigrant students, demographic changes in higher education, Latino students and community colleges, and how current immigrant migration patterns are affecting the education system. She is the author of numerous papers on Latino educational opportunity and racial shifts in higher education. Her work was cited in the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court Gratz v. Bollinger decision on affirmative action in higher education admissions.

Higher education finance and reform

Michael McLendon, associate professor of public policy and higher education, can discuss college tuition patterns, the shift toward more accountability raised by the legislation, and the role of political institutions and postsecondary governance structures in shaping policy at the state level and on campus. McLendon directs the Peabody College Program in Higher Education Leadership and Policy.

Higher education policy
Richard Rhoda, associate professor of leadership, policy and organizations, has served as the executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission since 1997. Rhoda has a wealth of experience in higher education administration and can discuss how the legislation will impact colleges and issues surrounding higher education governance.

Impact of tuition and fees on school spending

Vanderbilt Peabody College of education and human development doctoral candidate Eve Proper can discuss how institutions shift spending when states cut appropriations or place caps on tuition. 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.

Smart fundraising under increased scrutiny
Tim Caboni, assistant dean for external relations for Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of education and human development, can discuss wise fundraising practices in the current economic climate, the increased reliance of colleges and universities on their donors, and the importance of institutions’ relationships with their alumni and other donors. Caboni is the director of the Peabody Institutional Advancement program, the nation’s only academic program devoted solely to the preparation of advancement professionals for colleges and universities.

The growth of community colleges
Community colleges will increasingly serve growing numbers of students as the economy stumbles and numbers of non-traditional students grow. Assistant Professor of Higher Education William Doyle can discuss how community colleges have grown in response to changes in state populations, and can debunk the idea that community colleges are contributing to the separation of students by social or economic class.

Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of education and human development was ranked as the No. 2 education school in the nation in 2008 by U.S. News & World Report. For more news about Peabody, visit

Media Contact: Melanie Moran, (615) 322-7970