President Sullivan Publishes Analysis of Measuring Higher Education Productivity

University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan published an article, “Improving Measurement of Productivity in Higher Education,” in the January/February issue of Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning.

Co-authored with William F. Massy, professor emeritus of education and business administration at Stanford University, and Christopher Mackie, a study director with the National Academies' Committee on National Statistics, the article summarizes the report of the National Research Council Panel on Measuring Higher Education Productivity.

Sullivan led the 15-member ad hoc panel from 2009 to 2011; Massy and Mackie were two of its members. The report contains findings and recommendations for developing a conceptual framework and data infrastructure that would provide an assessment of the strengths and limitations of alternative approaches to productivity measurement in higher education. 

The online journal and article are available by subscription only.

Here’s the abstract: “Higher education is a critical element of the American economy, because of both its benefits and its costs to individuals and taxpayers. Yet we know very little about the relationships between the things colleges and universities do and the resources they need to do them. Currently, shrinking public support and increasing tuition make it urgent that we understand our own productivity and how to measure it. The challenge we face is to contain costs without compromising quality or accessibility.”

A sociologist, Sullivan’s research focuses on labor force demography, with particular emphasis on economic marginality and consumer debt. The author or co-author of six books and more than 50 scholarly articles, she is past secretary of the American Sociological Association and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago.

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