Bensimon and Tierney Receive Prestigious ASHE Awards

Dr. William G. Tierney and Dr. Estela Mara Bensimon

Dr. William G. Tierney and Dr. Estela Mara Bensimon

Two USC Rossier scholars were honored by the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) for their significant contributions to research and leadership in the field at the association’s annual meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, on November 15.

Estela Mara Bensimon received the 2013 ASHE Research Achievement Award, joining a small group of prolific scholars who have been recognized for research that advances understanding of higher education and shapes the field of study and practice. William G. Tierney, who was the 1997 recipient of the ASHE Research Achievement Award, was honored this year with the 2013 ASHE Leadership Award. The award recognizes individuals who bring visibility and support to the field of higher education by demonstrating the contributions of the study of higher education to policy formation.  Both Bensimon and Tierney are Professors at the USC Rossier School.

Bensimon is co-director of the Center for Urban Education (CUE) at USC Rossier, past president of ASHE (2005-06), and a nationally recognized researcher on issues of racial equity in higher education from the perspective of organizational learning and socio-cultural practice theories. Under Bensimon’s leadership, CUE has developed the Equity Scorecard™ , which helps  colleges and state higher education systems identify problems, develop interventions and implement equity goals to increase retention, transfer and graduation rates for historically under-represented racial-ethnic groups. Her recent book, Confronting Equity Issues on Campus, details how the Equity Scorecard™ is implemented in theory and practice.

Brian Pusser, professor at the University of Virginia who chaired the ASHE committee that reviewed nominations, bestowed the award, noting that Bensimon’s research is recognized within the academic community as “groundbreaking,” “fearless,” and “relentless in pursuing excellence and impact.”

“It’s hard to imagine more important work in our field, or a scholar who has addressed so many central issues with such commitment and vision,” he stated. “Dr. Estela Bensimon is someone who has changed the way we think, and more than that, motivated us to engage through research and practice with the most intractable challenges in higher education.”

Tierney, co-director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education at USC Rossier, is an internationally acclaimed authority in the field of higher education policy, college attainment, and leadership.  Among his distinctions, he is one of the only higher education scholars to serve as president (2012-13) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the largest professional organization devoted to the scientific study of education.

Tierney has also served as ASHE president (2001-02), and has held a number of key leadership positions at USC. In 2006, he became the first University Professor ever appointed in the School of Education.

Laura Perna, professor at the University of Pennsylvania, nominated Tierney for the award. She said that in addition to his many contributions to the field and his record of service, Tierney has also demonstrated his commitment to developing the next generation of scholars by providing mentorship and professional developmental opportunities for junior scholars in the field.

“Faculty and students in the USC Rossier School are proud to have colleagues of the stature of Estela Bensimon and Bill Tierney,” said Dean Karen Symms Gallagher. “Their scholarship and leadership in the areas of college access and attainment enhance our graduate programs as well as inform our understanding of this vital national policy.  My congratulations and deep admiration go to both of them.”

The Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) promotes collaboration among its members and others engaged in the study of higher education through research, conferences, and publications.