Primary Authors

Dr. William (Bill) Tierney is University Professor and Wilbur-Kieffer Professor of Higher Education and Director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California, and Past President of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Former President of the USC Academic Senate, he chaired the Ph.D. program for the USC Rossier School of Education and chaired the University Committee on Academic Review.

Dr. Tierney is committed to informing policies and practices related to educational equity. He is currently involved in a project to develop and evaluate an interactive web-enhanced computer game for low-income youth that will boost high school students’ college aspirations and equip players with knowledge about preparing for and succeeding in college. He is also involved in projects pertaining to the problems of remediation to ensure that high school students are college-ready, and a project investigating how to improve strategic decision-making in higher education. His most recent publications include: The Impact of Culture on Organizational Decision-Making and New Players, Different Game:Understanding the Rise of For-profit Colleges and Universities.

Tierney was an academic dean at a Native American community college in North Dakota, a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco, a Fulbright Scholar in Central America and Australia, and Scholar-in-Residence in Malaysia. Dr. Tierney earned a master’s degree from Harvard University and holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University in administration and policy analysis. He has received the Distinguished Research Award from the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) and most recently from Division J of AERA. He has been president of ASHE, and vice president of AERA. In 2006 he was appointed University Professor at the University of Southern California. In 2009 he was elected a Fellow of AERA.

Randy F. Clemens is Assistant Professor of Administrative and Instructional Leadership at St. John’s University’s School of Education. He received his Ph.D. in Urban Education Policy from the University of Southern California. His dissertation focused on African American and Latino male teenagers living and learning in a low-income neighborhood. Randy’s research pertains to three major themes: First, he examines the social and cultural contexts of education. In particular, he focuses on how growing up in low-income neighborhoods affects educational outcomes. Second, he investigates the uses of qualitative research to inform public policy. And third, he studies emerging qualitative research methods, especially related to social media. Before becoming a researcher, Randy served as a high school English teacher near the nation’s capital.

Zoe Corwin directs the Collegeology Games project. As a researcher with the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California, Corwin has conducted research on college preparation programs and access to financial aid for underserved students. She is co-editor of Preparing for College: Nine Elements of Effective Outreach (SUNY Press), contributor to Urban Students and the Challenge of Access (Peter Lang), and has published several monographs designed for practitioners outlining effective college preparation strategies. Corwin held Haynes and Spencer Foundation dissertation fellowships while working on a qualitative study examining college access and persistence for youth in foster care. Previous to her doctoral studies in sociology, Corwin taught middle and high school Spanish and global studies. Corwin holds an M.A. in Spanish from Saint Louis University in Madrid, a single subject secondary education credential & BCLAD certificate from the California State University, Northridge and a B.A. from in sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a founding board member of the New Los Angeles Charter Middle School.

Mark DeFusco joined Berkery Noyes with long and varied experience in higher education management. He served as chief executive officer/president at Vatterott Education Holdings, a private equity-held, for-profit college with 20 campuses in nine Midwestern states. Earlier, Mark served in several senior management capacities with the University of Phoenix (Apollo group). He holds a B.A. from Villanova University and a M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Southern California. He sits on the board of several education companies, and serves on the executive committee of the board of the Education Industry Association.

Constance Iloh is a Ph.D. student and researcher at University of Southern California in the Rossier School of Education Urban Education Policy Program. She received a Master’s degree in Business Management from Wake Forest University. Her research addresses equity, access, and the experiences of low-income students of color in higher education. She currently focuses on students and practices within the spaces of for-profit colleges and universities. She is a Gates Millennium Scholar at USC and serves as a research assistant working under the direction of Dr. William Tierney in the Pullias Center for Higher Education.

Stefani Relles completed her B.A. in English with a certificate in Integrated Arts at Northwestern University. After earning her M.Ed. at the University of New Hampshire, she taught high school English and Creative Writing before transitioning to working with writers in the private sector. As a Vice President and Department Head of Creative Writer Development at Fox Broadcasting Company, her outreach with emerging playwrights was recognized by media sources including The Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio. Additionally, during her tenure at Fox, she taught a graduate course entitled “How To Create a Television Series” at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. In 2007, she returned to the English classroom as an adjunct instructor at Los Angeles City College. Currently, she is working under the direction of Dr. William G. Tierney in the Pullias Center for Higher Education. She is interested in literacy and writing instruction as it pertains to higher education access for underserved student populations. Her previous blog experience includes a daily haiku blog which she’s published since 2007.

Kristan Venegas is an associate professor of clinical education and a research associate in the Pullias Center for Higher Education at USC. She earned her Ph.D. in Higher Education Policy Analysis at USC. Prior to joining the Rossier faculty, she served as an assistant professor of educational leadership at the University of Nevada, Reno. With more than 15 years of experience in student services, she teaches courses related to postsecondary administration and student affairs.

Her research agenda focuses on college access and financial aid for low-income students of color. Her work has appeared in American Behavioral Scientist, Urban Education, American Academic, Educational Studies and the Journal of Student Financial Aid. She is a former James Irvine Minority Doctoral Fellow, ASHE/Lumina Dissertation Fellow, and USC Mexican American Alumni Scholar. Her most recently funded research projects are related to the role of college preparation programs in providing financial aid information.