MAR 30: Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series

Dean's Distinguished Lecture Series banner | Laura Perna, Ph.D. | Monday, March 30, 2015
Date: Monday, March 30, 2015
Time: 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Reception to follow)
Location: Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall, University at Buffalo, North Campus
Cost: Free
Lecture: Open to the Public


Contact the Graduate School of Education at (716) 645-6640 or

About the Series

The University at Buffalo Graduate School of Education (GSE) Dean's Distinguished Lecture Series engages our local education community members, as well as faculty and students, with leading senior scholars in critical fields of education. Each year, the school brings to campus a distinguished scholar to present a special lecture on a topic relevant to education. Building on the university and school's strategic strengths, the series showcases and benchmarks impactful research and scholarship in the areas identified as strategic visions for the future of the university, as well as the Graduate School of Education.

This year's event will focus on the theme of Promoting College Access and Completion. The event is sponsored by the Adelle H. Land Memorial Fund and the Charlotte C. Acer Endowment for the Colloquia on Urban Education.

GSE is the home to nationally recognized programs, centers, and faculty that contribute together to excellent teaching, research, and service in the interest of better education for all.


"Promoting College Access and Completion: The Role of Public Policy and Institutional Practice”
This presentation highlights the roles of public policy and institutional practice in promoting higher education. Discussion of the role of state policy draws from the 2014 book (with Joni Finney), The Attainment Agenda: State Policy Leadership in Higher Education. Drawing on data collected from case studies of the relationship between public policy and higher education performance in five states (Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Texas, and Washington), The Attainment Agenda offers a framework for understanding how state policy can effectively raise overall higher educational attainment, and close gaps in attainment across groups.


Laura Perna, Ph.D.

PernaDr. Perna is the James S. Riepe Professor and the founding Executive Director of the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). She is also the chair of the Higher Education Division of the Graduate School of Education at Penn, faculty affiliate of the Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative, faculty fellow of the Institute for Urban Research, member of the advisory board for the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, and a member of the Social Welfare Graduate Group of the School of Social Policy and Practice. She holds bachelor’s degrees in economics and psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, and she earned her master’s in public policy and Ph.D. in education from the University of Michigan.

She has held leadership positions in the primary national associations in the field of higher education administration. Dr. Perna is currently the president (2014–2015) of the Association for the Study of Higher Education and she served as the vice president of the American Educational Research Association’s Division J (Postsecondary Education) from 2010 to 2013. She has also served on the editorial boards of leading journals, including Academe, American Educational Research Journal, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Educational Researcher, Journal of College Student Development, Journal of Higher Education, Journal of Women in Higher Education, Research in Higher Education, and Review of Higher Education. She is the associate editor of Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research.

In 2014, Dr. Perna was named a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association, a Penn Fellow, and the inaugural James S. Riepe Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2011, she received the Robert P. Huff Golden Quill Award from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. In 2010, Penn honored her with the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching. In 2003, she received the Promising Scholar/Early Career Achievement Award from the Association for the Study of Higher Education.

March 30, 2015

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