Laura Perna

Laura PernaLaura W. Perna is James S. Riepe Professor and executive director of the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy (AHEAD) at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). She has served as president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) and vice president of the Postsecondary Division of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). She is currently (2016–17) chair of Penn’s Faculty Senate.

Her research uses a range of methodological approaches to identify how social structures, educational practices, and public policies promote and limit college access and success, particularly for individuals from lower income families and racial/ethnic minority groups. Recent books include The Attainment Agenda: State Policy Leadership for Higher Education (with Joni Finney, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014). Her research has been funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, Lumina Foundation, and other sources, and has been featured by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, National Public Radio, and other outlets. She has provided invited testimony to the U.S. Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training. She is a fellow of AERA and Penn, and recipient of ASHE’s Early Career Achievement Award, Penn’s Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching, and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators’ Robert P. Huff Golden Quill Award.


Plenary Session: Does Society Invest Wisely in College?
Thursday, April 6, 1:30–3:00 PM