USC race expert to lead nation’s largest ed research group

Shaun R. Harper has been elected president of the American Educational Research Association

By Ross Brenneman

Shaun R. Harper

Shaun R. Harper

Shaun R. Harper, the Clifford and Betty Allen Chair in Urban Leadership at the USC Rossier School of Education, has been elected president of the American Educational Research Association, the largest professional education research organization in the country with more than 25,000 members.

Harper, an expert on higher education and urban high schools, is executive director of the USC Race and Equity Center and a USC Provost Professor. Harper will become president-elect at the end of this year’s AERA national meeting, held April 5–9 in Toronto.

“It is a tribute both to his research and his enthusiasm for public scholarship that Dr. Harper’s peers have elected him to help set the national agenda for education research,” said Karen Symms Gallagher, the Emery Stoops and Joyce King Stoops Dean of the USC Rossier School of Education. “I have every confidence that he will lead AERA with the kind of thoughtfulness and creativity that have made him such an important presence on our own campus.”

Harper is one of the nation’s preeminent experts on matters of race and gender, and has used data to critique universities and colleges that have not done enough to improve the outcomes of Black students. In 2017, he addressed the University of Virginia community six days after a march there by White supremacists, and last year testified to Congress about freedom of speech on college campuses.

Under Harper’s leadership, the USC Race and Equity Center has debuted the National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climate, as well as a tech tool designed to improve hiring and networking for people of color in higher education, PRISM.

“AERA is comprised of impressively smart members who have amassed considerable expertise on the most important and consequential education issues,” Harper noted. “I will use my presidential platform to bring greater attention to and extend the reach of their high-quality research.”

Harper was an assistant professor at USC Rossier from 2003–05, and rejoined the faculty in 2017 following an appointment at the University of Pennsylvania. From 2016-17, he served as president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education.

He is the second USC Rossier professor to be elected AERA president; William G. Tierney, the Wilbur-Kieffer Professor of Higher Education at USC Rossier, held the position in 2012–13.

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