Higher education organization honors two Rossier professors

October 24, 2018

Awards recognized leadership and distinguished scholarship

By Ross Brenneman and Siel Ju

Estela Mara Bensimon, Dean’s Professor in Educational Equity and director of the Center for Urban Education and William G. Tierney, Wilbur-Kieffer Professor of Higher Education and co-director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education

The Association for the Study of Higher Education has announced that two USC Rossier professors will receive major awards from the organization this fall.

Estela Mara Bensimon, Dean’s Professor in Educational Equity and director of the Center for Urban Education, will receive the ASHE Leadership Award. William G. Tierney, Wilbur-Kieffer Professor of Higher Education and co-director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education, will receive the Howard R. Bowen Distinguished Career Award.

Both professors have also served as presidents of ASHE, with Tierney elected in 2001 and Bensimon elected in 2005.

The scholarly society will confer the awards at its annual meeting in Tampa, Fla., on Nov. 15.

Leading in higher education

ASHE’s Leadership Award is “intended to recognize 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.”

Bensimon founded CUE in 1999, and has since turned it into a nationally recognized provider of institutes focused on bringing equity-mindedness to the organizational level. In the past year, CUE institutes have served hundreds of college presidents, deans and other administrators.  In January, California Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Bensimon to the Education Commission of the States.

As ASHE president, Bensimon established the organization’s Equity Institutes on Critical Research Methods, which enrolled more than 100 emerging scholars.

“I am grateful for the many opportunities that ASHE provided me from the time I was elected to the Board as a graduate student and many years later to the presidency,” Bensimon said.

Bensimon says she is dedicating her ASHE award to the memory of Kelly Ward, “my first PhD student who taught me much about leadership and a well-lived life.”

Distinguished scholar

Established to honor an individual “whose professional life has been devoted in substantial part to the study of higher education and whose career has significantly advanced the field through extraordinary scholarship, leadership and service,” the Distinguished Career Award is usually presented at, or near, the time of the individual’s retirement.

Tierney has served as a past president of the American Educational Research Association, the country’s largest professional group for education scholars. He has written and edited more than 80 books and monographs on a wide range of topics concerning higher education. He has held Fulbright Scholarships to Central America, Australia and India, and has been Scholar-in-Residence in University Sains Malaysia, and an interdisciplinary research fellow at the University of Hong Kong. AERA’s higher education division also recently awarded him its Distinguished Research Award.

“I look back at the previous awardees and am honored I now join this crowd,” Tierney said. “If I deserve this award, it’s because of the many people who have taken me to task when my writing was weak, my ideas unclear, or my emotion in front of reason. I have learned the most from my graduate students. Reading their work improves my work, and I’m one lucky fellow.”

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