Info for current Rossier

William  G.  Tierney

William G. Tierney

Wilbur-Kieffer Professor of Higher Education

Co-Director, Pullias Center for Higher Education

PhD, Stanford University
MA, Stanford University
MEd, Harvard University
BA, Tufts University

Contact info

wgtiern@usc.eduPhone: 213-740-7218Fax: 213-740-3889WPH-701CCurriculum Vitae

Assistant info

Diane Floresdianeflo@usc.eduPhone: 213-740-7218Fax: 213-740-3889WPH 701


Higher Education


Expert on higher education, including policy, faculty, culture and minorities.  

William G. Tierney


Dr. William Tierney is University Professor and Wilbur-Kieffer Professor of Higher Education here at Rossier and the Co-Director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education. He is an expert on higher education policy analysis, governance, and administration; cultural leadership in higher education; decision making in higher education; faculty reward structures; organizational culture and its role in academic decision making, innovation, and organizational change in postsecondary education; power, ideology, and cultural politics in academia; equity issues in higher education; diversity issues in higher education; building communities of difference on the multicultural campus; Native Americans and other minorities in higher education; quality of faculty performance; faculty socialization as a cultural process; race, class, gender and sexual identity in the socialization of faculty; socialization and culture of college students; critical and feminist interpretations of higher education policy; anthropology of higher education; educational institutions as political and organizational cultures; organizational/institutional politics; affirmative action; for-profit universities; tenure reform; the college presidency; cultural politics in academia; gay and lesbian studies; and ethnography.

Having spent over two decades conducting research on college access for underrepresented youth, as well as improving the performance of colleges and universities, Tierney is committed to informing policies and practices related to educational equity and postsecondary effectiveness. He has served as President of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and is the first USC scholar to be elected to this prestigious post. He is currently involved in studies pertaining to remediation and college-readiness, access to college, governance in higher education, and the role of universities in under-developed countries. He is also directing a project that involves the creation of a video game that will develop the aspirations of high school students and help them navigate the college application process. He has received funding for his research from, among others, the Irvine Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, the Ford Foundatio n, the U.S. Department of Education, and Lumina Foundation for Education. The results of his work have appeared in numerous journal articles, book chapters, and books. His most recent publications include: Trust and the Public Good: Examining the Cultural Conditions of Academic Work; New Players, Different Game: Understanding the Rise of For-profit Colleges and Universities (with Guilbert Hentschke); Financial Aid and Access: Understanding the Public Policy Challenges; and Building the Responsive Campus: Creating High Performance Colleges and Universities.

Tierney brings to his work administrative experience as an academic dean at a Native American community college in North Dakota, and cross-cultural insight from Peace Corps work in Morocco and his experience as a Fulbright Scholar in Central America and Australia. He earned a master’s degree from Harvard University and holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University in administration and policy analysis. He teaches graduate courses on higher education policy, administration and governance, organizational behavior, and research design.



Current projects

  • Collegeology Games
  • A study looking of gainful employment in for-profit colleges and universities
  • An investigation of how high school students use time
  • An analysis of best practices in improving the college readiness of low-income youth
  • A project on rethinking the structure of public state systems in higher education

Recently completed projects

Professional Experience:

Honors and Awards:

  • Named as one of 40 "young leaders in the academy" by CHANGE magazine
  • Winner of "Distinguished Research Award" from Association for the Study of Higher Education
  • Fulbright Scholar to Australia and Central America
  • Elected Member of the National Academy of Education


Selected Publications

Edit Profile