Center for the Study of Higher Education
Center for the Study of Higher Education
Instructors interacting with students and students walking on the pavement

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Ed Home Center for the Study of Higher Education
Center for the Study of Higher Education

Center for the Study of Higher Education

Center for the Study of Higher Education

Liliana Garces awarded 2014 Palmer O. Johnson Memorial Award from AERA

COED _307_.jpg

The Pennsylvania State University’s Center for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE) is one of the nation’s first research centers established specifically to study postsecondary education policy issues. For over 30 years, research teams composed of nationally recognized faculty, top graduate students, and effective professional staff have been devoted to examining the critical issues that influence the policies and practices of postsecondary institutions. To that end, CSHE is dedicated to:

  • conducting and disseminating theory-based empirical research designed to improve higher education practice and policy

  • providing high-quality data and analysis to institutional, state, and federal policymakers

  • supporting graduate training for students in the Higher Education Programs at Penn State


CSHE was founded in January 1969 at The Pennsylvania State University as one of the first research organizations established specifically to examine postsecondary education policy issues. In its first decade, the Center responded primarily to research initiatives from Penn State, focusing on University organization and governance. It also performed studies in response to general policy issues, such as collective bargaining analysis, financial planning, institutional master plans, and resident program planning.Following that first decade of University-focused research, CSHE broadened its research base to national and international issues in higher education. Because of the long-term support of the University, which provides an ongoing base of financial and administrative support, CSHE has developed a continuity of performance and a wealth of faculty experience across the spectrum of postsecondary institutions and issues. It is considered to be one of the top postsecondary research centers in the nation.

Center Directors

  • G. Lester Anderson, 1969–1976
  • Kenneth Mortimer, 1977–1980
  • William Toombs, 1981–1986
  • Kathryn M. Moore, 1986–1988
  • James L. Ratcliff, 1989–1997
  • Patrick T. Terenzini, Interim Director, 1997–1998
  • J. Fredericks Volkwein, 1998–2002
  • Carol L. Colbeck, 2002–2007
  • Donald E. Heller, 2007–2011
  • Robert M. Hendrickson, Interim Director, 2011-2012
  • John J. Cheslock, 2012-