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.

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.

Dr. Melora Sundt is a professor of Clinical Education who is currently serving a two year term as a Senior Advisor tomalora_sundt_portrait-392 the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In that capacity, Sundt collaborates with colleagues at CDER to develop leadership and organizational development training and help CDER become a model for blending learning within federal agencies.  While at CDER, Sundt continues to teach, advise doctoral students and build courses in Rossier’s EdD for Organizational Change.

Prior to working with CDER, Sundt served Rossier for fifteen years in a variety of administrative leadership roles. Most recently, she served as Executive Vice Dean, overseeing the degree programs, admissions and student services, and through the Associate Dean supervises program directors. Sundt specializes in the areas of online learning and instruction, creativity and innovation in higher education, diversity issues, and violence prevention on college campuses. In 2015, Sundt was awarded the USC Associates Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest honor conferred by the University for outstanding teaching.

Antar A. Tichavakunda was born and raised in Washington, DC. He attended Brown University and majored in Education Studies/Policy. In antar_tichavakundacollege he became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and was heavily involved in Black affinity groups and mentoring programs. After graduating in 2011, Tichavakunda joined Teach For America and taught in Washington, DC public schools and received a M.Ed from George Mason University. Antar is a research assistant in the Pullias Center for Higher Education and is advised by Dr. William Tierney.  Within the Pullias Center, he is also a qualitative research assistant for the First In the World Grant project and a regular contributor to the 21st Century Scholar blog. He has two main research interests: 1) the Digital Divide as it relates to underrepresented youth and 2) the experience of underrepresented student populations at predominately white institutions.


Michael Lanford is a Provost Fellow in the Pullias Center for Higher Education.  Employing a global perspective to higher education research, his work pertains to institutional innovation and productivity, student preparation, and the study of writing across disciplines.

Over the past couple of years, Michael has published articles in Higher Education, the Higher Education Handbook of Theory and Research, the Handbook of Asian Higher Education, the Cambridge Quarterly, and other academic outlets.  Additionally, he has presented at conferences in Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Before arriving at USC, Michael received Master’s degrees from the University of Hong Kong, where he graduated “with distinction” in higher education, and Washington University in St. Louis, where he was a Harvey Fellow in American Studies.  Michael also taught undergraduate and graduate classes in world cultures, music history, music theory, and aesthetics for several years at Western Carolina University and the University of Georgia.

Dr. Monique Datta joined Rossier as an Assistant (Teaching) Professor of Clinical Education (offsite) in the teacDatta-Moniqueher education concentration. Her areas of expertise include educational leadership, secondary education, and secondary content literacy. Her long-term research agenda centers on teacher preparation in secondary, urban contexts, and the Common Core State Standards and its implications for classroom planning, instruction, and assessment.

At Rossier, Datta teaches Integrating Literacy in Secondary Content Instruction, Teaching English Language Arts in the Secondary Classroom, and Guided Practice A and B in the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) online program and she teaches the Framing Course for the EdD program (Hawaii cohort).

Noel Alumit serves as Editor.