In late 2010, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation asked HCM Strategists, LLC to bring together a group of researchers and practitioners from around the country to identify and debate the best currently available ways to account for differences in college “inputs”—students, resources, fixed characteristics—when evaluating postsecondary outcomes. The project, which was later named “Context for Success,” sought ideas that would have practical benefits in the higher education policy world but would also withstand academic scrutiny.

Peter Bahr

Peter Riley Bahr is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Education. Bahr's research currently focuses on modeling the course-taking patterns and enrollment behaviors of college students for the purpose of understanding students' educational pathways and outcomes, particularly in community colleges. Bahr joined the faculty of the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan in the fall of 2009. He previously held a faculty appointment in the Department of Sociology at Wayne State University (2004-2009) and a research appointment in the Chancellor's Office of the California Community Colleges (2001-2003). He received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California-Davis.

Thomas Bailey

Thomas Bailey is the George and Abby O'Neill Professor of Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is also Director of the Community College Research Center (CCRC) and the national Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE), established in 2011 and funded by a grant from the Institute for Education Sciences. From 2006 to 2012, Bailey directed another national center funded by IES called the National Center for Postsecondary Research. With support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Dr. Bailey established the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Teachers College in 1996 and since 1992 has been Director of the Institute on Education and the Economy (IEE) at Teachers College. In June 2010, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appointed him chair of the Committee on Measures of Student Success, which developed recommendations for community colleges to comply with completion rate disclosure requirements under the Higher Education Opportunity Act. Dr. Bailey received the AERA Division J (Postsecondary Education) Exemplary Research Award in 2012 and in the same year was elected as a member of the National Academy of Education.

Charles T. Clotfelter

Charles Clotfelter is Z. Smith Reynolds Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Economics and Law at Duke University. He is also a research associate in the National Bureau of Economic Research. His research has covered the economics of education, public finance, the economics of state lotteries, tax policy and charitable behavior, and policies related to the nonprofit sector. Among his books on education are Big-Time Sports in American Universities (Cambridge University Press, 2011), After Brown: The Rise and Retreat of School Desegregation (Princeton University Press, 2004), Buying the Best: Cost Escalation in Elite Higher Education (Princeton University Press, 1996) and (with Ronald G. Ehrenberg, Malcolm Getz, and John J. Siegfried) Economic Challenges in Higher Education (University of Chicago Press, 1991). He is also editor of American Universities in a Global Market (University of Chicago Press, 2010) and author of Federal Tax Policy and Charitable Giving (University of Chicago Press, 1985) and (with Philip J. Cook) Selling Hope: State Lotteries in America (Harvard University Press, 1989).

Clotfelter is a native of Birmingham, Alabama, and he grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. He attended Duke University and majored in history, graduating in 1969. In 1974 he received his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University. Before coming to Duke in 1979, he taught at the University of Maryland, spending his last year there on leave at the U.S. Treasury's Office of Tax Analysis, where he was a Brookings Economic Policy Fellow. While at Duke in 1979, he has served as Vice Provost for Academic Policy and Planning, Vice Chancellor, and Vice Provost for Academic Programs. He has also served as President of the Southern Economic Association. During the 2005/06 academic year he was a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation. In 2011, he won the Spencer Foundation Award for research in education and delivered the Spencer Lecture at the meetings of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management in Washington, D.C.

Jesse Cunha

Dr. Cunha is an Assistant Professor of Economics in the Naval Postgraduate School’s Graduate School of Business and Public Policy. He earned his Ph.D. in Economics from Stanford University, specializing in the applied microeconomics of health and education. His research emphasizes the use of rigorous econometrics to test economic theory and offer tangible lessons for public policy in both developed and developing countries

Douglas Harris

Douglas N. Harris is Associate Professor of Economics and University Endowed Chair in Public Education at Tulane University. His research explores how students’ educational outcomes are influenced by school choice, teacher evaluation, school and college accountability, college financial aid, and college access programs. A former school board member, his research marries theory and rigorous research with the practical realities of schooling. The general interest journal Science, the Journal of Public Economics and the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management are among the academic journals that have published his work. His recent book, “Value-Added Measures in Education” (Harvard Education Press, 2011), was nominated for the national Grawemeyer Award. Washington Monthly magazine has used his research on college performance measures in its college ratings and David Brooks has cited related work in his New York Times column. He has advised eight state departments of education, elected officials at all levels of government, and groups such as the National Academy of Sciences, National Council of State Legislatures, National Governors Association, and National School Boards Association. His work is frequently cited in the national media, including CNN, Education Week, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Sylvia Hurtado

Sylvia Hurtado is a Professor at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA in the Division of Higher Education and Organizational Change. She is currently the Director of the Higher Education Research Institute, which houses the Cooperative Institutional Research Program— the longest-running empirical study of higher education involving data collection on students and faculty. Previously, she served as the Director of the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan. Hurtado has published numerous articles and books related to her primary interests in student educational outcomes, campus climates, college impact on student development and diversity in higher education. She holds a doctorate in education from UCLA, a master’s degree in education from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Princeton University.

Robert Kelchen

Robert Kelchen is a dissertator in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is an Institute for Research on Poverty graduate research fellow. He is affiliated with the Wisconsin Scholars Longitudinal Study and the National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs. His research interests include the transition to college and educational effectiveness and accountability. He has a master's degree in economics from UW-Madison and bachelor's degrees in economics and finance from Truman State University.

Trey Miller

Trey Miller is an Associate Economist at the RAND Corporation specializing in higher education policy. Much of his research uses large administrative databases and experimental or quasi-experimental techniques such as regression discontinuity, instrumental variables methods and propensity score matching to evaluate the causal impact of education programs and policies. He has worked with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to study the state's community college system, developmental education program, and the Texas GO Center Project, a statewide college information and awareness campaign. He has also worked with THECB to develop value-added measures for the state’s higher education accountability system. He is currently the co-principal investigator for a Spencer Foundation-funded research project to assess the impact of policies governing college tuition towards undocumented immigrants on educational attainment of the undocumented. In recent work funded by the Wallace Foundation, he helped design, implement and analyze a random controlled trial experiment in Pittsburgh Public Schools to evaluate the impact of student and parent incentives to attend a voluntary summer learning program on student attendance patterns and learning outcomes. Miller holds a doctorate in economics at Stanford University.

Matthew N. Murray

Matthew N. Murray holds a joint appointment with the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) and the Department of Economics at the University of Tennessee. He is Associate Director of CBER, Director of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, the Ball Corporation Professor of Business in the College of Business Administration and Program Director for the Public Administration Major in Economics. He served as Department Head of Economics from 1997 to 2002 and Director of Graduate Studies from 2002 to 2007. His research interests include state and local tax policy, education finance, tax compliance and regional economic development. Murray is a member of the National Tax Association and the American Economic Association. He holds a doctorate in economics and a master’s degree from Syracuse University, and he earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa.

Stephen Porter

Stephen R. Porter is Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Leadership, Policy and Adult & Higher Education at North Carolina State University. Previously, Porter was an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Iowa State University. He also spent nine years in higher education administration in the field of institutional research, working first at the University of Maryland, and most recently as Director of Institutional Research at Wesleyan University. He received his doctorate in political science from the University of Rochester, with a concentration in econometrics. He presents regularly at national education research conferences and has published papers in journals such as Economics of Education Review, Journal of College Student Development, and Journal of Higher Education.

John Pryor

John H. Pryor directs the largest and longest running study of higher education in the United States: the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP), a project of the Higher Education Research Institute, a non-profit institute at UCLA. He speaks widely on the impact of college on students and the importance of a research-based assessment program for colleges and universities. John has a background in institutional research and student affairs, and previous to coming to UCLA was the director of student affairs planning, evaluation and research at Dartmouth College. He has particular interests in the impact and prevention of college student alcohol use and survey research methodology. As the Director of the CIRP surveys, he conducts longitudinal research on the changing nature of college students and the impact of college.

David Wright

David L Wright serves as the chief policy and research officer for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, where he routinely advises the Governor's staff and legislative leaders on higher education policy matters, including the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship. He is the primary architect of the 2010-2015 Public Agenda for Tennessee Higher Education, which identified educational attainment as one of the state's most pressing needs and established degree production goals for the State and its higher education systems, consistent with institutional mission. The Public Agenda set the stage for a new outcomes-based public higher education funding formula, which attaches a premium to successful outcomes for adults and low-income students. Prior to coming to Tennessee in August 2006, Wright served as Senior Research Analyst for the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO), where he developed the State Higher Education Finance study, a national annual survey of state higher education appropriations, net tuition revenues and enrollments.

William Fox

Bill Fox is a Chancellor’s Professor, the William B. Stokely Distinguished Professor of Business and the Director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee. He is a past president and recipient of the Steven D. Gold Award from the National Tax Association and former Chairman of the Economics Department at the University of Tennessee. He has held visiting appointments as Professor at the University of Hawaii, scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, and Distinguished Fulbright Chair at the University of Frankfurt, Germany. Fox has served as a consultant in 40 countries and 15 U.S. states on a wide range of public policy issues. He holds a BS in Business Economics from Miami University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from the Ohio State University.

Celeste Carruthers

Celeste K. Carruthers (Ph.D., Economics, University of Florida, 2009) is an assistant professor of economics at the University of Tennessee, a research faculty member of the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) at the University of Tennessee, and an affiliated researcher with the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER) at the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C. Her dissertation research on North Carolina’s charter teachers has won awards from the University of Florida Department of Economics and the Association for Education Finance and Policy (formerly the American Education Finance Association). Newer lines of inquiry focus on higher education, historic education finance, and school accountability.

Grant Thrall

Grant Ian Thrall, Ph.D., is President Elect, American Real Estate Society, and Consultant with He is a retired Professor of Geography and endowed Professor Chair of Excellence in Real Estate. His holds advanced degrees in Geography and Economics from the Ohio State University. His undergraduate degree is in business and economics from California State University. Thrall is a Fellow of the Homer Hoyt Institute in Palm Beach, and a Fellow of the Miller Center for Retail at University of Florida. His work is highly interdisciplinary. He has over 150 publications in the field of geography, economics, real estate, urban planning, regional science and education. He has authored and edited thirteen books. His book, "Business Geography and New Real Estate Market Analysis," published by Oxford University Press, has been reviewed as a "paradigm shift" in real estate. He has been a consultant with the Florida Board of Governors, Fannie May, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, CCIM (Certified Commercial Member Institute), NAR (National Association of Realtors), and on the national academic board of directors of AI (Appraisal Institute). He is currently engaged in extending his geospatial analysis to k-12 and higher education, Sustainable Real Estate, and location value of real estate assets current and historical. Dr. Thrall has two patents pending on geospatial algorithms for calculating students' expected performance and achievement in education including standardized exams. He has been quoted many times in the news media such as the New York Times, the Economist, Florida Trend Magazine and New York Times Syndicate newspapers in Florida and has frequently appreared in the Gainesville Sun and the Sarasota Herald Tribune. Grant Thrall resides in Gainesville, Fla. and Vail, Colo.

Context for Success Project Team

Sandy Baum

Sandy Baum is an independent higher education policy analyst and senior consultant. Baum is a Senior Fellow at the George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development and Professor Emerita of Economics at Skidmore College. Baum is also a Senior Associate at the Institute for Higher Education Policy, Affiliated Consultant for HCM Strategists, and Consultant to the College Board. She is the co-author of the College Board’s annual publications, “Trends in Student Aid and Trends in College Pricing.” Baum holds a doctorate in economics from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Bryn Mawr College.

Kristin D. Conklin

Kristin D. Conklin is a founding partner of HCM Strategists, LLC. Prior to starting HCM, Conklin served as Senior Advisor to the Undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Education. From 2000 to 2006, she was Program Director in the Education Division at the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices. Conklin also directed the Washington office of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education from 1997 to 2000. She has a master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree in political science from California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo.

Nate Johnson

Nate Johnson serves as a consultant to HCM Strategists on higher education policy, funding and student success issues. He has worked in education policy, planning and institutional research at the national, state and institutional levels. Johnson serves as the Lumina Foundation’s external higher education productivity adviser to the state of Tennessee, and is the leader of a Lumina-sponsored “strategy lab” on student incentives to complete courses and programs. Previously, he was the Executive Director of Planning and Analysis for the State University System of Florida in the office of the chancellor. He also served as Associate Director of Institutional Research at the University of Florida and as a Policy Analyst in Florida’s nationally-recognized Office of Articulation. Johnson holds a doctorate in English literature from Cornell University and earned his bachelor's degree from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.

Kim Hunter-Reed

Currently serving as Chief of Staff for the Louisiana Board of Regents, Reed directs the staff in its coordinating, policymaking and legislative advocacy for postsecondary education in Louisiana. She is also a senior consultant with HCM Strategists and serves as project manager for the Context for Success initiative. Previously, she served on the senior leadership teams for the University of Louisiana System and Southeastern Louisiana University and as a faculty member for Southern University. She has served in the administration of two Louisiana governors in the positions of Deputy Chief of Staff, Policy Director and Press Secretary. She holds a doctorate in public policy from Southern University and A&M College, a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Louisiana State University. In 2010, Reed was also selected for participation in the AASCU MLI Program and as an Associate with the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

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