The State of College Access: Panelists
Dr. Sandy Baum, Independent Policy Analyst and Consultant
Sandy Baum is an independent higher education policy analyst and consultant. A senior fellow at the George Washington School of Education and Human Development and Professor Emerita of Economics at Skidmore College, Baum earned her B.A. in sociology at Bryn Mawr College and her Ph.D. in economics at Columbia University. She has written and spoken extensively on issues relating to college access, college pricing, student aid policy, student debt, affordability, and other aspects of higher education finance. Dr. Baum is a senior associate at the Institute for Higher Education Policy and affiliated consultant for HCM Strategists. She has worked with numerous organizations including the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, the Association of Governing Boards (AGB), Canada Student Loans Program, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA). Baum has managed and co-authored the annual publications, Trends in Student Aid and Trends in College Pricing for the College Board since 2002. She also developed and co-authored Education Pays: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society for the College Board. She co-chaired the Rethinking Student Aid study group, which issued comprehensive proposals for reform of the federal student aid system and is managing a study of the impact of student aid simplification on states, funded by the Lumina Foundation for Education. Other recent work includes studies of concepts of college affordability, the non-financial barriers to college access, and tuition discounting in public and private colleges and universities.
Kya N. Dixon, College Programs Officer, College Success Foundation-District of Columbia
Kya N. Dixon is currently the College Programs Officer at College Success Foundation- District of Columbia (CSF-DC), a college access and scholarship provider that selects underrepresented students using non-cognitive factors to receive the DC Achievers Scholarship. Ms. Dixon’s primary responsibilities are supporting recipients of the DC Achievers Scholarship to ensure they are successfully navigating college by accessing resources proven to increase college completion rates for underrepresented students and building strategic relationships with key administrators in admissions, financial aid, and student services at the colleges and universities that Achievers Scholars attend. She is also the director of CSF-DC’s Summer Academic Enrichment Program, a four-week residential program for 250 rising high school seniors designed to improve college readiness through coursework in math, writing, reading comprehension, cultural exposure and college-readiness programming. Ms. Dixon has over 10 years experience working in higher education as a student financial aid administrator and earned her Masters in Higher Education from Drexel University.
Dr. David Feldman, Professor of Public Policy, and Chair, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary
David Feldman is the chair of the economics department at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. He is also a professor of public policy for the college’s Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy. Prior to coming to William and Mary, he was a member of the economics department at Colgate University. Dr. Feldman’s current research examines theoretical and policy questions in the economics of higher education. Together with Robert B. Archibald, he is the author of Why Does College Cost so Much?, published this year by Oxford University Press. The book explores the economic forces driving college cost and tuition setting, and how these forces affect access to higher education. He has also written many articles for economics and higher education professional journals. His recent work explores topics such as college graduation rates and accountability, the determinants of state higher education spending, and testing competing theories about the causes of rising college cost. In addition to his professional writing, he has also written many policy and commentary articles for major education periodicals and newspapers. Dr. Feldman earned his Ph. D. in economics at Duke University and his A.B. in economics and political science from Kenyon College.
Tally Hart, Senior Advisor for Economic Access, The Ohio State University
Throughout her 40 year career, Natala Kleather (Tally) Hart served students with limited opportunities for higher education. Her work includes service in financial aid offices at several 4 year public institutions: University of California, San Diego, Purdue University, IUPUI, Indiana University and Ohio State University; public service as the head of the Indiana State Scholarship and Loan Commission; and service to institutions of higher education through her work at the College Board. She has contributed widely to college student financial literacy initiatives to improve student retention and completion. Her most recent role was as the founding director of the Economic Access Initiative at Ohio State, developing and evaluating mechanisms to encourage college-going among 4th through 10th grade low income Ohio students and enrollment in graduate and professional programs for first generation college students.
Dr. Don Heller, Dean, College of Education at Michigan State University
Effective January 1, 2012, Donald Heller started a term as Dean of the College of Education at Michigan State University. In his prior role as a professor of education, senior scientist, and Director of the Center for the Study of Higher Education at The Pennsylvania State University, Heller taught and conducted research on higher education economics, public policy, and finance, with a primary focus on issues of college access and choice for low-income and minority students. He has consulted on higher education policy issues with university systems and policymaking organizations in California, Colorado, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia, and has testified in front of Congressional committees, state legislatures, and in federal court cases as an expert witness. Dr. Heller earned an Ed.D. in Higher Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and holds an Ed.M. in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy from Harvard and a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from Tufts University. Before his academic career, he spent a decade as an information technology manager at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In July 2007 he was named the ninth director of the Center for the Study of Higher Education at Penn State and in 2009 he was a visiting professor at Birkbeck College, University of London in the U.K. Dr. Heller received the 2002 Promising Scholar/Early Career Achievement Award from the Association for the Study of Higher Education, a scholarly society with over 1,500 members dedicated to higher education as a field of study. He was also the 2001 recipient of the NASFAA’s Robert P. Huff Golden Quill Award, for his contributions to the literature on student financial aid.
Dr. Laura Perna, Professor, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania
Laura W. Perna is a professor in the graduate school of education at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to that, she was a faculty member at the University of Maryland at College Park. Her current scholarship draws on multiple theoretical perspectives and a variety of analytical techniques to understand the ways that social structures, institutional practices, and public policies separately and together enable and restrict college access and success, particularly for racial/ethnic minorities and individuals of lower socioeconomic status. Perna has served as a member of the technical review group for the GEAR UP follow-up evaluation, the technical work group of the Upward Bound and Student Support Services Innovative Practices Study, the technical review panels for the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, Beginning Postsecondary Student Survey, and the Baccalaureate and Beyond Survey, the American Council on Education’s Center for Policy Analysis Advisory Board, the National College Access Network Research to Practice Advisory Committee, and Lumina Foundation for Education’s Research Advisory Committee. She is currently serving as Vice President of the Postsecondary Education Division of the American Education Research Association and as Project Director of the Institute for Education Sciences-funded Pre-Doctoral Training Program in Interdisciplinary Methods for Field-Based Research in Education. She has also served on numerous editorial boards, and is the recipient of the Promising Scholar/Early Career Achievement Award from the Association for the Study of Higher Education, the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching from the University of Pennsylvania, and NASFAA’s Robert P. Huff Golden Quill Award. She holds a B.A. in psychology and B.S. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s degree in public policy, and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Michigan.
Joan Zanders, Director of Financial Aid, Northern Virginia Community College
Joan Zanders’ 24+ years working as a Director of Financial Aid have included service at private four-year, public four-year and public two-year institutions. She currently serves as Director at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), a six-campus school of more than 75,000 students who hail from over 150 countries. Ms. Zanders received her B.A. in Education from Midland Lutheran College and her Masters in Higher Education Counseling from Wayne State College and has previously taught at both the secondary and postsecondary levels, most recently teaching a class entitled “Issues of Unity and Diversity”. Ms. Zanders has been very active within the financial aid profession, serving as a negotiator for Program Integrity Issues, on numerous committees at the state, regional and national levels, as a presenter and trainer, and as President of both her state and regional associations. She received the prestigious NASFAA Leadership Award given annually to one individual from each of six regions who exhibits high integrity and character, shows creative leadership, and inspires and encourages others to actively participate in professional development. Ms. Zanders believes in giving back to the community and has sponsored high school and college youth groups, served as founding President of a Habitat for Humanity chapter, and worked with Alternative to Violence Project providing 3-day conflict resolution workshops for prison inmates and the community, including leaders in northern Uganda and orphaned children. Her professional mantra is access and accountability. The Financial Aid Office at NOVA works closely with NOVA’s highly successful, award-winning Pathway to the Baccalaureate Program and with NOVA’s numerous community business partners to provide postsecondary education access for at-risk students in northern Virginia.