Robert Kelchen, Ph.D., associate professor of higher education and chairman, Department of Education Leadership, Management and Policy in the College of Education and Human Services, has been recognized by the prestigious publication Education Week, and the American Enterprise Institute think tank as number 19 in a ranking of the top 200 United States education scholars and public influencers of 2021.
The 2021 Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings, compiled by AEI's Frederick M. Hess, director of education policy studies spotlights 200 scholars credited with moving ideas from academic journals into the national conversation. Hess shared that the ranking is a way to honor education scholars who had the biggest influence on the nation's education discourse by ranking the university-based scholars in the U.S. who did the most last year to research and shape educational practice and policy.
Using nine metrics, Hess calculated how much university-based academics contributed to public discussions of education.
"Given that more than 20,000 university-based faculty in the U.S. are researching education, simply making it onto the Edu-Scholar list is an accomplishment," explained Hess.
Kelchen shared the top ranking along with colleagues from prominent institutions including Harvard, Stanford and University of Pennsylvania. He was also recognized in Education Week's related rankings of the top ten influential faculty in five policy categories. He was highlighted as number two in the scholarly discipline of Government and Policy.
"There is a value in bringing the best evidence available to policy conversations. A lot of education research is in very technical language in scholarly journals and it is important to communicate it in a way that can be useful to policy makers," explained Kelchen.
He described recent changes in the financial aid formula being informed by his work to move from describing "expected family contribution" at a value of zero to a negative number, providing the opportunity to offer students with more access to financial aid. He is currently researching state funding for higher education and the implications of the economic crisis on college students.
"I hope to teach the next generation of scholars to communicate with policy makers and the public and to train the next generation of policy makers in how to use research," he said.
Kelchen's research interests include higher education finance, accountability policies, and student financial aid. He recently authored the book Higher Education Accountability (Johns Hopkins University Press) and has articles published in Economics of Education Review, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, and The Journal of Higher Education. Kelchen teaches organization and governance of higher education, higher education finance, how to write a dissertation proposal, and institutional research and planning. He was awarded the Robert Huff Golden Quill Award by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators for his research and public outreach on college affordability.