The Higher Education Department at the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver, in partnership with Affiliate Faculty Member, Dr. Kim Hunter Reed, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Higher Education, is pleased to announce the Call for Proposals for the 2018 Public Policy Forum: Higher Education in the Era of the States: Elevating Equity and Advancing Public Policy.

In this time of immense change in higher education, states will play a critical role in educational innovation to help students pursue and attain equitable educational opportunities. Through engaging leading researchers, policy makers, students, nonprofit leaders, and administrators, this timely and relevant Public Policy Forum will focus on strengthening a research and policy agenda that elevates equity in the modern era of public policy for education.

The results of a national study about the role of Intermediary Public Policy Organizations (IPPOs) in shaping higher education public policy will be released during the Public Policy Forum. The report will be co-authored by Cecilia M. Orphan, Assistant Professor, Sophia Laderman, Senior Policy Analyst, State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, and Ryan Evely Gildersleeve, Associate Professor, Higher Education at the University of Denver, and will share the results of a national study examining how IPPOs engage in advocacy and agenda setting for higher education.


Public Policy Forum Themes and Speakers

Today, opportunity gaps persist, funding is declining for educational institutions at all levels, and the basic value of education is being questioned. At the same time, there are recent erosions to federal protections for various student groups including undocumented and DACAmented students (Duke, 2017), Title IX guidance (Kreighbaum, 2017, September 25), and rollbacks of other directives by key federal offices such as the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. In light of these challenges, there is no better time to elevate research that advances equity-focused public policy in our states and across the nation. Given the persistent equity gaps in educational attainment and changing demographics, we argue that states must take a leadership role in advancing equity-focused public policy for higher education. During the Public Policy Forum, we will explore the role of states and intermediary public policy organizations in promoting equity in education.

The Public Policy Forum planning committee is excited to announce that the opening speaker will be Dr. Ted Mitchell, President of the American Council on Education. Dr. Mitchell served as Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education during the Obama Administration, where he led work on equity, accountability, and innovation. A proven and pragmatic leader, he has served as President of Occidental College, as well as President of the California State Board of Higher Education.  Dr. Mitchell will address the need for states to lead in erasing equity gaps in the U.S. in the midst of changing federal and state landscapes.

Dr. Stella Flores, Associate Professor of Higher Education and Director of Access and Equity at The Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy at New York University, will give the closing keynote address. Dr. Flores is a dynamic, nationally recognized scholar with a strong commitment to equity and opportunity.  Her research focuses on the effects of state and federal policies on college access and completion for low-income and underrepresented populations.  Dr. Flores will address the status of racial college completion gaps across different state contexts and explore how K-20 data systems can be used to identify better locations for interventions to decrease college completion gaps. She will examine the following questions: Whom should we hold accountable? How do we move forward as stakeholders across the educational pipeline?




Morgridge College of Education
Katherine A. Ruffatto Hall
1999 E. Evans Ave.
Denver, CO 80210

Sie International Complex
Maglione Hall
2201 South Gaylord Street
Denver, CO 80210


Public Policy Forum Subthemes

Public Policy and Finance in the Era of the States. This subtheme examines the role of state public policy in elevating equity. State responses to changes to DACA, Title IX protections, and regulations for for-profit educational enterprises will be examined in this subtheme. This subtheme also explores state finance strategies that elevate equity (eg., funding models for educational institutions and financial aid policies).

The Role of Intermediary Public Policy Organizations (IPPOs) in Education. This subtheme examines the role of intermediary organizations (including philanthropic foundations, advocacy groups, membership associations, and nonprofits) in the policy formation process for education. This subtheme will consider how IPPOs engage in agenda setting, promote equity-focused policy, assess policy alternatives, infuse research into policy debates, and advocate for particular policy solutions.

Bi-Partisan Leadership for Equity-Focused Policy. This subtheme presents the opportunity to explore instances of bi-partisan leadership in states that elevates equity, a topic of consequence given the largely polarized nature of political discourse in the U.S., as this Pew Research Center report demonstrates.

Equity-Focused Linkages Between K-12 and Higher Education Public Policy. This subtheme investigates K-12 and higher education linkages in public policy.  Opportunity gaps in elementary and secondary education must be addressed immediately to prevent replication of opportunity gaps in postsecondary education. This subtheme will focus on equity-minded work in the P-20 environment and examines state policy approaches to elevating equity along the education pipeline. Example areas of interest include academic preparation and college access, concurrent enrollment, teacher preparation, student-level data use, and apprenticeship programs.

Public Policy Research Brief

The Role of Intermediary Public Policy Organizations (IPPOs) in Shaping the Policy Agenda for Higher Education: This research brief will be released during the forum. Learn more about the co-authors below:

Dr. Cecilia M. Orphan

Assistant Professor, Higher Education, Morgridge College of Education

Cecilia M. Orphan is an assistant professor of higher education at the University of Denver. Her research centers on the effects of neoliberal ideology and public policy on the democratic purpose of higher education and the role of regional comprehensive universities in facilitating opportunity and regional civic life. Prior to her doctoral program, she directed the American Democracy Project (ADP), a national multi-campus initiative of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. The 240 regional comprehensive universities involved with ADP focus on higher education’s role in educating informed, engaged participants for U.S. democracy. Cecilia holds a PhD in higher education from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Portland State University.

Sophia Laderman

PhD Student, Higher Education, Morgridge College of Education; Senior Policy Analyst, State Higher Education Executive Officers Association

Sophia Laderman joined SHEEO in 2015 as a data analyst. She currently serves as a senior policy analyst and leads the State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) project. In addition, Sophia works on the Adult Promise Pilot program and has co-authored reports on student equity, tuition, and affordability. Sophia is interested in using high-quality data to inform policy decisions, particularly in public postsecondary finance and affordability.

Prior to joining SHEEO, Sophia worked in admissions at the University of Colorado and as a research coordinator at Duke University. Sophia has a B.A. from the University of Hawai‛i, an M.P.A. from the University of Colorado, and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in higher education at the University of Denver.

Dr. Ryan Evely Gildersleeve

Associate Professor and Chair, Higher Education, Morgridge College of Education

Ryan Evely Gildersleeve is Associate Professor and Department Chair of Higher Education at the University of Denver. He pursues a research agenda grounded in the philosophical foundations of higher education, critical policy studies, and critical qualitative inquiry. He was a National Academy of Education / Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in 2012-2014 and received the 2011 Early Career Award in Research Methodology from the American Educational Research Association. Gildersleeve earned his MA and PhD in Education from UCLA. He is a graduate of Occidental College.

Public Policy Forum Location

There is no better site to host the Public Policy Forum than Denver, Colorado. The Higher Education Department at the University of Denver is a nationally recognized incubator for equity-focused research about public policy for higher education. Colorado is also site to several major public policy organizations, including the Education Commission of the States, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, the National Center for Education Management Systems, the American Indian College Fund, and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. Indeed, Colorado is a national leader in elevating research-informed public policy.

Morgridge College of Education
Katherine A. Ruffatto Hall
1999 E. Evans Avenue
Denver, CO 80210

Sie International Complex
Maglione Hall
2201 South Gaylord Street
Denver, CO 80210

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