Gregg Thomson is Principal Researcher, Student Experience in the Research University-Association of American Universities Consortium (SERU-AAU) at the Center for Studies in Higher Education. SERU is the comprehensive undergraduate census survey used by a consortium of 15 Association of American Universities member institutions and by the University of California as the University of California Undergraduate Experience Survey (UCUES). His interests are minority and diversity issues in higher education, the development and use of student surveys, and research on the undergraduate student experience using SERU data. Thomson is the retired Executive Director, Office of Student Research and Campus Surveys at UC Berkeley. He currently serves as the Director of Institutional Research at Saint Mary’s College.
As a graduate student, Thomson was the Harvard Educational Review’s first non-Harvard Graduate School of Education editorial board member and served as co-chair of the board. Beginning in 1973, he helped develop the curriculum of UC Berkeley’s Department of African American Studies and taught courses on African Americans and psychology; race, class, and gender; minority education; and social science research methods. He developed and taught the first social science course on African American women at a major American university. With his student, Donna Benson, he conducted the first full-scale study of sexual harassment on a university campus, published in Social Problems (1982).
In the 1980s Thomson originated and administered an annual census survey of the entire workforce for New United Motor, Inc. At Berkeley he introduced the Survey of New Students (SoNS) in 1990 and co-led the development of the University of California’s Cost of Attendance Survey (COAS), first administered in 1997. In 2002 he became a Co-Principal Investigator of SERU/UCUES, coordinating the work of the University of California’s institutional research offices on the survey’s content and design.
Thomson has produced well over a hundred research reports and presentations on the undergraduate experience to campus administrators and scholarly audiences. These include award-winning papers on the minority student experience and Diversity Matters: New Directions for Institutional Research on Undergraduate Racial/Ethnic and Economic Diversity (2011). His research on student outcomes includes an early critique of the prevailing wisdom on the relationship of SAT scores and graduation rates and a recent assessment of the study of graduation rates within institutional research.
Thomson has also taught at the graduate level at several local universities (including minority psychology at New College and higher education at California State University, East Bay) and has been a consultant in institutional research at Mills College.
Recent and Selected Publications
Thomson, G. & Cantwell, A. Academically secure? Undergraduates with High Levels of Academic Engagement, Civic Engagement, Co-Curricular Leadership, and Employment at the Research University. 6th Annual SERU Research Symposium, Berkeley CA (May 2012)
Douglass, J. & Thomson, G. Poor and Rich: Student Economic Stratification and Academic Performance in a Public Research University System. Higher Education Quarterly 66, 65-89. (January 2012)
Thomson, G. Diversity Matters: New Directions for Institutional Research on Undergraduate Racial/Ethnic and Economic Diversity. Center for Studies in Higher Education, University of California, Berkeley. 8.11. (May 2011)
Thomson, G. Four Types of Institutional Research. California Association for Institutional Research 35th Annual Meeting, San Diego CA. (November 2010)
Thomson, G. Immigrant Generation, Cultural Capital, Ethnicity, and Gender: Undergraduate Diversity at the Public Research University (revised and expanded). Association for Institutional Research 49th Annual Forum, Atlanta GA. (June 2009) [CAIR Best Paper Session]
Thomson, G. & Douglass, J. Decoding Learning Gains: Measuring Outcomes and the Pivotal Role of the Major and Student Backgrounds. Center for Studies in Higher Education, University of California, Berkeley. 5.09. (May 2009)
Thomson, G. Is the SAT a “Good Predictor” of Graduation Rates? The Failure of "Common Sense" and Conventional Expertise and a New Approach to the Question. [Expanded version of paper presented at California Association for Institutional Research 23rd Annual Meeting.] University of California, Berkeley. (December 1998)
Benson, D., & Thomson, G. Sexual harassment on a university campus: The confluence of authority relations, sexual interest and gender stratification. Social Problems, 29, 236-251. (February 1982).