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Educational Administration Faculty

Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education

Marilyn Amey
Ph.D., Penn State University
Marilyn Amey is a professor of higher, adult, and lifelong education and chairperson of the Department of Educational Administration. In 2017, she was appointed as the Dr. Mildred B. Erickson Distinguished Chair in Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education. She studies educational partnerships, particularly those of community colleges, leadership, including how leaders learn, post-secondary governance and administration, and faculty concerns, including interdisciplinary academic work. Her current work focuses on education partnerships including a multi-year evaluation of a multiple- institutional interdisciplinary consortium and factors affecting student transfer and degree attainment.
Ann E. Austin
Ph.D., University of Michigan
Ann E. Austin is associate dean for research and professor of Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education at Michigan State University, where she has twice been selected to hold the Mildred B. Erickson Distinguished Chair. Dr. Austin’s research concerns faculty careers and professional development, organizational change in higher education, teaching and learning in higher education, doctoral education, reform in STEM education, the academic workplace, equity and inclusion in academe and higher education in the international context. She is a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the past-president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), and she was a Fulbright Fellow in South Africa (1998). She is a founding co-PI/Leader of the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL), funded by the National Science Foundation, and was the principal investigator of an NSF-funded ADVANCE PAID grant to study organizational change strategies that support the success of women scholars in STEM fields. Her work is widely published, including Faculty Development in the Age of Evidence: Current Practices, Future Imperatives (2016); Rethinking Faculty Work: Higher Education's Strategic Imperative (2007) and Educating Integrated Professionals: Theory and Practice on Preparation for the Professoriate (2008), as well as other books, articles, chapters and monographs concerning higher education issues in the United States and in international contexts. In 2011, she wrote a commissioned paper for the Board on Science Education of the National Research Council entitled “Promoting Evidence-Based Change in Undergraduate Science Education.” She has worked with colleagues at the national and institutional levels on higher education issues in a number of countries, including Australia, China, Egypt, Finland, Malaysia, Oman, Thailand, the Philippines, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam.
Brendan Cantwell
Ph.D., University of Arizona
Brendan Cantwell is an associate professor of higher, adult and lifelong education. His research interest is in the political economy of higher education and addresses topics including organization and governance, policy, and academic labor. Much of his work takes an international and comparative perspective. Brendan teaches courses on a variety of topics including higher education organization and administration, finance, and comparative higher education. In recent projects he has addressed problems related to academic research enterprise including science policy and the role of postdoctoral researchers as well as problems related to competition among higher education organizations.
John Dirkx
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
John M. Dirkx is professor and Mildred B. Erickson Distinguished Chair (Emeritus) in Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education at Michigan State University, and is Director of the College of Education Master's of Arts in Education (MAED) online program. His current research interests focus primarily on teaching and learning in higher and adult education contexts. Dirkx is particularly interested in short- term, faculty-led education abroad programs for graduate students; professional development for higher education teachers in developing countries; the role of higher education capacity building in international development; and the spiritual and transformative dimensions of adult, work-related learning. Dirkx is current editor of the Journal of Transformative Education, the primary author of A Guide to Planning and Implementing Instruction for Adults: A Theme-based Approach, and editor of Adult Learning and the Emotional Self. He has also published numerous book chapters and journal articles on teaching and learning in higher and adult education and work-related learning. He is currently working on a book on the transformative dimensions of teaching and learning.
Leslie Gonzales
Ed.D., University of Texas, El Paso
Leslie D. Gonzales is an associate professor of higher, adult and lifelong education. Gonzales's research agenda consists of three overarching lines of inquiry: (1) legitimacy within the academic profession and the broader field of higher education; (2) transnational relations of power that govern the recognition of knowledge and knowers; and (3) the possibility of agency among academics to negotiate, remake or resist marginalizing structural and cultural features of academia. Gonzales is a first-generation working class student-turned-academic, and earned all three academic degrees from Hispanic-serving institutions, including New Mexico Highlands University and The University of Texas at El Paso.
Dongbin Kim
Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
Dongbin Kim is an associate professor of higher, adult and lifelong education. Her research focuses on issues of equity and social justice in the field of higher education. This focus is applied to three interrelated topical areas: (1) financial aid policy, (2) college access and (3) international and comparative higher education issues within the U.S. and global contexts. Dr. Kim's research has been published in Teachers College Record, Harvard Educational Review, Journal of Higher Education and Research in Higher Education. Her most recent research examined the intersection of individual, financial and institutional context that shapes students' college mobility patterns. She holds an Ed.M. in educational administration from Seoul National University in Korea and a Ph.D. in higher education policy from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Patricia Marin
Ph.D., University of Maryland
Patricia Marin is an assistant professor of higher, adult, and lifelong education. Her research interests focus on higher education policy and issues of inclusion and equity for underrepresented students. In particular, her work examines issues of diversity, affirmative action and college access. In her current work, Marin is studying the changing nature of Hispanic Serving Institutions and research use within the law.
Kristen Renn
Ph.D., Boston College
Kristen Renn is a professor of higher, adult, and lifelong education and associate dean of undergraduate studies/director for student success initiatives. Her research centers on college student learning, development, and success in higher education, with current projects focusing on low-income, first-generation students and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender college students. Other interests include college student identity development, student affairs administration, and women’s higher education in international contexts. She is co-PI of the National Study of LGBTQ Student Success ( and leads Michigan State University’s Neighborhoods student success initiative (
Riyad Shahjahan
Ph.D., University of Toronto
Riyad A. Shahjahan is a faculty member in higher, adult and lifelong education. His areas of expertise are in globalization and higher education, teaching and learning in higher education (focusing on anti-oppressive and embodied pedagogy), equity and social justice and anti/postcolonial theory. He has been conducting both empirical and theoretical work, focusing on: a) the role of international organizations (IOs) in globalizing higher education policy through empirical/theoretical analyses of IOs’ current policy initiatives (e.g., the OECD, World Bank, UNESCO, etc.), and b) rethinking the traditional objects of study/practice in higher education from global and non-western critical perspectives, particularly using anti/postcolonial theoretical perspectives.
Matthew Wawrzynski
Ph.D., University of Maryland
Matthew Wawrzynski, Ph.D. is an associate professor of higher, adult, and lifelong education and coordinator of the higher, adult, and lifelong education program. His research integrates non-cognitive measures and the collegiate environment with college student outcomes. Current projects include student engagement and learning in South Africa, learning outcomes for peer educators and the effects of psychosocial interventions on college student success and persistence. Other interests include student affairs administration, assessment, and college student learning development. He serves as PI and director of the National Peer Educator Study.
Steven Weiland
Ph.D., University of Chicago

Steven Weiland is a professor in the graduate program in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education (in the College of Education). He has degrees from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York (B.A. in English) and the University of Chicago (PhD in English).

Previous to his appointment at Michigan State, he held faculty and administrative positions at the University of Michigan, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Iowa and the University of Minnesota. For much of his career, Professor Weiland taught in departments of English and American Studies. At the University of Minnesota, where he taught courses in literature and the history of psychology (at the Institute for Child Development), he was director of the Department of Professional Development Programs. He also spent nine years as executive director of the National Federation of State Humanities Councils, a non-profit organization serving the state programs of the National Endowment for the Humanities. After moving to MSU, Professor Weiland also spent eight years as director of the University’s Jewish Studies Program in the College of Arts and Letters.

Professor Weiland’s primary interests are in the intersections of the humanities and the social and behavioral sciences in the subjects of adult and career development, technology and higher education, biography and other forms of narrative inquiry, and in research methods, rhetoric and writing. He teaches courses in career development (EAD 864) and education in the digital age (EAD 878) among other subjects and the college-wide course in research (CEP 930). In all, Professor Weiland teaches five online courses in two College of Education MA programs, all in a self-paced hypermedia format he has devised. In spring 2015, Professor Weiland will offer a new hybrid course for PhD students in “Scholarly and Scientific Communications in the Digital Age.”

Professor Weiland is the author of Intellectual Craftsmen: Ways and Works in American Scholarship and of many essays on subjects in the humanities and education, and he is the co-author of Keywords of Social Gerontology and co-editor of Jazz in Mind. He is at work on Faculty Work in the Digital Age: A Primer and The Scholar's Tale: Life Stories and Intellectual Identities.

K-12 Administration

David Arsen
Ph.D. University of California at Berkeley
David Arsen is a professor of Education Policy and K-12 Educational Administration. He is an economist with specialization in public policy analysis. His research focuses on school finance, school choice policies, education governance, school capital facilities and the privatization of education services.
Amita Chudgar
Ph.D., Stanford University
Amita Chudgar is an associate professor of education policy. Her work examines the influence of home, school, and community contexts on educational access and achievement of children in resource-constrained environments. Through the analysis of diverse, large-scale, national, regional, and cross-national datasets, she studies the role of policy-relevant variables in ensuring equal educational opportunities for disadvantaged children. Her long-term interests focus on ensuring that children and adults in resource-constrained environments have equal access to high-quality learning opportunities, irrespective of their backgrounds.
Kristy Cooper Stein
Ed.D., Harvard University
Kristy Cooper Stein is an associate professor of K-12 educational administration. Her research examines how school and district leaders systematically increase student engagement in classrooms--both to enhance student learning and increase high school graduation rates. To this end, Kristy studies strategies for increasing student engagement through teacher collaboration and teacher leadership. Kristy also studies instructional leadership, school improvement, dropout prevention, and the qualities of effective schools. Her prior work has included analyses of the use of data in elementary schools and the inner-workings of high-performing, urban charter schools.
Joshua Cowen
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
Joshua Cowen is an associate professor of education policy and the founder and co-director of the Education Policy Innovation Collaborative (EPIC), a new research lab dedicated to providing research with consequence to inform education policy in Michigan and beyond. His current research focuses on teacher quality, student and teacher mobility, program evaluation and education policy. His work has been published in multiple scholarly journals and funded by a diverse array of philanthropies. He is currently co-editor of Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis and a member of the Editorial Board at Education Finance and Policy. Follow him @joshcowenMSU.
Scott A. Imberman
Ph.D., University of Maryland
Scott A. Imberman is an associate professor of economics and education. He is an economist who specializes in the economics of education and education policy. His research focuses on issues in domestic education and has recently studied charter schools, classroom peer-effects, accountability, bilingual education, gifted education, in-school breakfast and school uniforms. Currently he is researching teacher incentive pay, the labor market returns to higher education, and economic determinants and implications of autism. He is also a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a member of the board of directors for the Association for Education Finance and Policy.
Rebecca Jacobsen
Ph.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Rebecca Jacobsen is an associate professor of teacher education and the Associate Director of the Education Policy Center. Her background is in politics and education where she has focused on public opinion and its impact on education policy. She has also written about the politics of charter schools and the achievement gap. Her current work is on accountability policies.
Madeline Mavrogordato
Ph.D., Vanderbilt University
Madeline Mavrogordato is an assistant professor of K-12 educational administration. Her research centers on issues surrounding school reform and improvement for disadvantaged student populations. She utilizes both quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate how the social context of education, implementation of educational policies and school leadership shape educational outcomes for underserved students, particularly immigrants and English language learners. In her current work, Madeline is investigating the process by which English language learners are reclassified as English proficient, strategies that schools employ to engage immigrant parents in schools and the social and policy implications of school choice for students and families.
BetsAnn Smith
Ph.D., University of Minnesota
BetsAnn Smith is an associate professor of K-12 educational administration. Her interests stretch across areas of school reform, school development, the contributions of administrator, teacher and student leadership to school improvement, leadership learning and the implementation of policy. Much of her work has been in the U.S., but has recently been engaged in leadership development work internationally. A former coordinator for K-12 programming, she has helped redesign master level leadership development programs and contributed to the creation of a novel Ed.D. for school and community leaders. Some of her current work focuses on the development of new leader roles in schools, on the influences of school organizational routines on teacher’s time use and instructional quality and on the interactive affects of performance metrics on school organizational community.
Katharine O. Strunk
Ph.D., Stanford University
Katharine O. Strunk is a professor of education policy and the Clifford E. Erickson Distinguished Chair in Education. She is also co-director of the Michigan State University Education Policy Innovation Collaborative (EPIC) and an associate editor of the journal Education Finance and Policy. Strunk’s research is focused on three areas under the broad umbrella of K-12 education governance: teachers’ unions and the collective bargaining agreements they negotiate with school districts, teacher evaluation and compensation, and accountability policies. Rooted in the fields of economics and public policy, Strunk’s work centers on structures that are central to district operations and policy and the ways these structures affect policymakers’ decisions and outcomes. Her recent work includes studying teacher labor market responses to policy reforms in Michigan, teacher and school accountability and support policies in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and portfolio management reforms in LA, Denver and New Orleans. Follow her @KatharineStrunk.
Chris Torres
Ph.D., New York University
Chris Torres is an assistant professor of K-12 educational administration in the College of Education at Michigan State University. His scholarship focuses on how school choice reforms, particularly charter schools, affect practitioners and educational practice. Currently, his work includes studies on charter school teacher and leader turnover and mobility, sources of learning and support for charter leaders, hiring processes in charter management organizations (CMOs), disciplinary methods in “no- excuses” schools, and portfolio management model (PMM) governance reforms in New Orleans, Denver and Los Angeles.
Melissa Usiak
Ph.D., Michigan State University
Melissa Usiak is an assistant professor of K-12 educational administration. She is a veteran educator, having served for two decades as a teacher, district coach, assistant principal, and principal in three distinctly different public school districts in Michigan. As a professor of practice, Melissa is a mentor for aspiring school leaders. She has a deep investment in bridging theory to practice and is committed to fostering systems that better support students living in poverty. Particularly noteworthy is her work on developing the leadership capacity of leaders, teachers and staff as a means of supporting and sustaining continuous school improvement. Melissa also continues to assume leadership roles in organizations that serve Michigan practitioners and students. She is a 2017 UCEA Excellence in Education Award recipient. Follow her @MelissaUsiak.
Terah Venzant Chambers
Ph.D., University of Illinois
Terah Venzant Chambers is an associate professor of K-12 educational administration. Her research interests include post-Brown K-12 education policy and urban education leadership. Specifically, she is interested in the ways within-school segregative policies influence African American students? academic achievement and school engagement, as well as the price of school success for high-achieving students of color (racial opportunity cost). She has been an associate editor for several journals and currently serves on the editorial boards of AERJ, JRLE, and Urban Education. She has previously served as a Congressional Fellow with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) with placements in the Office of Rep. Diane E. Watson (retired) and the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education.
John Yun
Ed.D., Harvard University
John T. Yun has areas of expertise in diverse learners and educational equity, educational policy, assessment and measurement and evaluation. His research focuses on issues of equity in education, specifically patterns of school segregation; the effect of poverty and opportunity on educational outcomes; the educative/counter-educative impacts of high-stakes testing and the power of evaluation to impact policy and practice.