Higher Education Researchers Workgroup

The goal of this group is to bring together qualitative and quantitative higher education researchers working on issues at Berkeley, the University of California, the State of California or elsewhere for the mutual exchange of knowledge, ideas and issues through:
  • Acquainting one another with their respective research
  • Discussing our research strategies, data base use and data issues
  • Engaging with the questions raised by all of our work
  • Supporting each others’ work by providing feedback on substance and presentation
  • Creating an ongoing list of projects past and present for eventual posting on the CSHE website


  • Monthly meetings for an hour and a half
  • At every meeting a check in with new and existing members about their project(s)
  • When possible prior to each meeting an abstract, proposal, raw summary, finished or draft piece should be circulated among the group
  • At the meeting the author informally presents a summary of his or her research questions and issues and does not necessarily make a formal presentation—this is research in progress
  • Depending on the consensus of the group pertinent articles by non-members could be circulated and discussed for the issues germane to the participants
Too often higher education data driven researchers on and off campus work alone and they are unfamiliar with the breadth of research even on the Berkeley campus. There also is not necessarily communication among qualitative and quantitative researchers although many researchers use both types of data. Additionally there often is a disciplinary divide. This group is intended to overcome these to the enrichment of all participants. All are welcome including international visiting scholars who may be working on higher education issues in their own country. 

Meeting Details

Higher Education Researchers Workgroup 
First Friday of every month by Zoom
Graduate students and postdocs are particularly encouraged to attend.


This workgroup is organized and chaired by CSHE Senior Researcher Emerita, Anne MacLachlan
For more information regarding this workgroup please contact Anne at maclach@berkeley.edu.

Past Presentations

Student Learning and Wellbeing during the Pandemic: Evidence from the SERU COVID-19 Survey

Student Learning and Wellbeing during the Pandemic: Evidence from the SERU COVID-19 Survey

The presentation discusses the results from the Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) Consortium survey of more than 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students at research-intensive universities in the United States conducted in May-July 2020. We focus on two aspects of student experience during the pandemic: how students adapted to remote instruction implemented by universities in Spring 2020; and how the pandemic affected students' wellbeing and mental health. The results suggest that the transition to remote instruction was generally difficult to students and they experienced more obstacles rather than benefits. Furthermore, there are major disparities in students’ adaptation to remote instruction based upon their demographics, social identity, prior experience with online learning, and life responsibilities. In addition, the pandemic had looming negative impacts of the pandemic on students’ mental health, wellbeing, and safety. We discuss the implications of our findings for higher education policy and university operations during the pandemic.


  • Dr. Igor Chirikov, SERU Consortium Director and Senior Researcher, Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley
  • Dr. Krista M. Soria, Director of Student Affairs Assessment at the University of Minnesota; Assistant Director for Research and Strategic Partnerships, SERU Consortium.

Higher Education Researchers Workgroup: Academic Freedom

Academic Freedom

George Blumenthal, Director of CSHE and Chancellor of UC Santa Cruz, emeritus and Robert Carlen May, Professor emeritus of philosophy, UC Davis and CSHE affiliate lead a discussion on academic freedom. They are currently writing an article together on this topic, one always of great importance, now much in the news.

Can we ever forgive Joseph Le Conte?—The Challenge of Names on UC Berkeley's Buildings

Can We Ever Forgive Joseph Le Conte?—The Challenge of Names on UC Berkeley's Buildings

In 2015, the Sierra Club requested that the National Park Service remove the name Joseph Le Conte from the 1903 memorial lodge named in his honor in Yosemite Valley. Recently the UC Berkeley physics faculty has asked campus administration to remove the Le Conte name, which recognizes both Joseph Le Conte and his brother John Le Conte, from the building housing the physics department. Both requests cite Joseph Le Conte’s ownership of enslaved people on a Georgia plantation, an inheritance shared with brother John Le Conte; their active support of the Confederacy during the Civil War; and Joseph’s writings advocating white supremacy.

This presentation will consider the background from which the brothers came; the circumstances that brought them to the University of California; the reasons that their contemporaries held them in high regard; and the context for Joseph Le Conte’s writing on white supremacy. Questions at the heart of the naming issue include at the forefront: is there an appropriate balance for weighing the brothers’ considerable achievements against what we now know to be the long-lasting damage to American society arising from institutions that they supported? This presentation proposes a beginning point for the discussion.

Karen Merritt is an Associate of the Center for Studies in Higher Education. Before retirement, she served as Director of Academic Planning and Program Review in the UC Office of the President and Director of Academic Planning for UC Merced. She is co-editor of From Rangeland to Research University: the Birth of the University of California, Merced. Her current research is on the role of UC faculty and alumni in the founding of the Sierra Club and National Park Service.

Next Meeting

June 4, 12pm - 1:30pm PDT

Asymmetric Expectations: Faculty Research Roles Under California’s Master Plan for Higher Education

Abstract: The California Master Plan for Higher Education, established in 1960, contains language embedded in statute that authorizes the California State Colleges, and their successor, the California State University (CSU), to engage only in research consistent with their instructional mission. The University of California is designated as the primary, and state-supported, academic agency for research. This work explores the Master Plan negotiations that led to this unique language, reviews the theory and practice as to why the language remains in place after 60 years, and considers its impact on current practice in the CSU. The research draws heavily on theory and insight from history, sociology, organizational behavior, and political science to integrate and analyze the historical and archival data with current data collected during the final research phases of the dissertation.

I utilize a blended qualitative approach incorporating a historical organization case study, semi-structured interviews with higher education policy and systems experts, and survey data from 600 tenured and tenure-track CSU faculty. I explore how CSU faculty conceptualize their research and scholarly roles in the context of a negotiated public policy treaty from 1960 that continues to limit the authorized research functions of the CSU and its faculty. I conclude with an analysis of the aggregated data and consider whether sufficient change in California’s public higher education ecosystem has occurred to warrant revisiting the Master Plan’s differentiation of function constraints on research.

Bio: David Earwicker recently completed his PhD in Education Policy at the University of California, Davis, with a dissertation titled, Asymmetric Expectations: Faculty Research Roles Under California’s Master Plan for Higher Education. From 2004-2017 he served as Associate Vice President of Research Affairs and Chief Research Officer for California State University, Sacramento. Prior to that, from 1993-2004, he served as Managing Director for the Center for International Business Education and Research (CBER) at San Diego State University.

Earwicker holds an M.A. in Middle East Affairs/Islamic Culture Studies from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and he also has a B.A. in Economics and International Relations from the University of California, Davis. A Fulbright Scholar in 1996, Earwicker travelled to Germany with other higher education administrators to investigate and research higher education systems integration issues after reunification in the early 1990s.

Ongoing research interests include higher education policy, higher education systems and change, and faculty identity and development.

We will look forward to seeing you there and joining in congratulations for David finishing his degree!

Contact Anne MacLachlan for more information: maclach@berkeley.edu