USC Rossier professors recognized in rankings of public scholar influence

January 12, 2017

Tierney, Polikoff, Strunk and Bensimon impacting education policy and practice

By Matthew C. Stevens

L to R: Dr. William G. Tierney, Dr. Morgan Polikoff, Dr. Katharine Strunk and Dr. Estela Bensimon

Four USC Rossier faculty members are listed in Education Week’s annual ranking of the top 200 scholars who are doing the most to influence educational policy and practice.

William G. Tierney (#34), Morgan Polikoff  (#88) and Katharine Strunk (#145) each return to the list from last year, and Estela Bensimon joins this year at #166. Strunk moved up 47 spots from her #192 position last year

“These exceptional scholars demonstrate on a daily basis what it means to be an educator with impact,” says USC Rossier Dean Karen Symms Gallagher. “By bringing their research out into the public square, they are leading the conversation on many issues affecting higher education and K-12 policy. And I believe their academic work benefits from this wider engagement.”

The feature is an annual compilation from Rick Hess, the director of educational policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute and an Education Week blogger. His criteria include both traditional academic measures such as the Google Scholar H-Index and non-traditional measures such as media/blog mentions, Amazon rankings and Klout scores, which include Twitter presence. Also factoring into the rankings is input from education thought leaders.

All four honorees balance original research and scholarship with writings and commentary in a variety of publications. Also noteworthy is the University of Pennsylvania’s Shaun Harper, who is ranked #9. He is coming to USC Rosser in July and will open the USC Center on Race and Equity.

Tierney and Bensimon each lead influential research centers at USC Rossier: Tierney, University Professor and Wilbur-Kieffer Professor of Higher Education, is co-director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education. He spent the last academic year in India as a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar, researching the nature of academic work in global economies. Bensimon is director of the Center for Urban Education, which recently received two major grants to improve the center’s equity scorecard.

Bensimon, a frequent author of essays and opinion pieces, received the AERA Division J 2016 Outstanding Publication Award as co-editor of Critical Approaches to the Study of Higher Education, published in 2015 by John Hopkins University Press. Tierney is the editor most recently of a volume of essays titled Rethinking Education and Poverty, also published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

Polikoff and Strunk are leading influencers of K-12 policy. Polikoff, a social media powerhouse, has used his work to push the U.S. Department of Education to reconsider how it measures school effectiveness. He is currently investigating how districts select textbooks and is also on the research team for the annual USC/Rossier PACE Poll of California voters. Strunk is currently working on several grant-supported studies, including an examination of teachers’ unions, resource allocation and district outcomes. She is also a leading national expert on collective bargaining, especially in the wake of the Vergara trial in California. Her research has appeared in Educational Policy, Educational Administration Quarterly, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Education Finance and PolicyJournal of Educational Administration and American Educational Research Journal, among others.

USC Rossier will also soon welcome a fifth member of the rankings. Ranked #3, Shaun R. Harper of the University of Pennsylvania will be rejoining the Rossier faculty in July, when he will launch the USC Race and Equity Center.

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