Making a Difference on Retention

Presented by: Dr. Richard Light

On January 16, 2007, Harvard’sDr. Richard Light, author of Making the Most Out of College, visited UALR to discuss his research on college effectiveness. Richard Light is a Walter H. Gale Professor of Education at the Kennedy School of Government and Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. He teaches statistics, program evaluation, and policy analysis with an emphases on data collection and analyzes to improve program management.

Light received his Ph.D. in statistics from Harvard in l969, and was appointed a professor in l974. While Light has authored or coauthored seven books, his most recent book, Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their Minds was honored with the Virginia and Warren Stone Prize for best book of the year about education and society.

Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their Minds adds a practical view of some concrete things instructors can do to enhance student persistence. It builds upon Harvard President, Derek Bok’s book Our Underachieving Colleges, which provides philosophy and background to the educational issues many colleges face today.

Before writing Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their Minds, Dr. Light as invited by four Harvard presidents, Derek Bok, Neil Rudenstine, Lawrence Summers, and Drew Faust, to create and chair the Seminar on Assessment. The Seminar on Assessment is a consortium that brings together faculty and senior administrators from twenty-four diverse colleges and universities to carry out research on college effectiveness. It is now in its eighteenth year.

In addition, Light is the founder and chair of the Forum for Excellence and Innovation in Higher Education. This forum is a five year effort to work with leaders of fourteen outstanding colleges and universities. The goal is to develop a capacity at each institution to become a "learning organization." Achieving this goal involves developing several innovations to enhance students’ experiences at each college, to implement them on each campus, and then to evaluate rigorously their effectiveness.

Outside of Harvard, Professor Light has been president of the American Evaluation Association, an organization of scholars, scientists, and managers working to improve public services sector.

Light also chaired the Panel on Programs for Youth for the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, and he served on the National Advisory Board for the Program Evaluation Division of the U.S. General Accounting Office.

Recently, Dr. Light completed chairing "The Educational Impact of Changing Student Demographics in Colleges and Universities " at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. This five year study brought together senior campus leaders from twenty colleges and universities to explore how to enhance student’s college experience as they attend college with peers from increasingly different backgrounds.

In 1998, Light was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 1999, he was elected a Trustee of Wellesley College. In 2000, he became a member of the National Board on Testing and Assessment for theNational Academy of Sciences, and in 2001, he was elected to the National Academy of Education. In 2006, he began serving as a Member of the Board of Overseers Visiting Committee of the Harvard Business School, and in 2007, he was elected to the Board of The Teagle Foundation, which sponsors innovations in higher education.

He has been elected to the National Board of the American Association for Higher Education, and appointed to the National Board of the Fund for Improvement of Postsecondary Education. Recently, Dr. Light was honored with the Paul Lazarsfeld Award for distinguished contributions to science and to scientific practice, and named by Vanderbilt University’s Chancellor’s Lecture Series as one of America’s great teachers.

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