Tower Center Monthly Seminar | ‘Privatizing’ Public Higher Education in the U.S.: The Political Economy of State Postsecondary Policy Change

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 (3:00 PM – 4:30 PM)
Tower Center Board Room, Room 227, Carr Collins Hall (map)


Michael K. McLendon
Annette and Harold Simmons Centennial Endowed Chair
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Simmons School of Education and Human Development
Tower Center Fellow, SMU

McLendonDr. Michael K. McLendon is the Annette and Harold Simmons Endowed Centennial Chair in Education Policy and Leadership in the Simmons School of Education and Human Development at Southern Methodist University, where he serves as the associate dean. In the Simmons Dean’s Office, Dr. McLendon oversees academic affairs and faculty development, and works closely with the dean on strategic initiatives. His scholarship and teaching focus on governance and leadership, finance, and public policy for higher education.

A primary strand of Dr. McLendon’s research is directed toward understanding the factors influencing policy change at both the state and campus levels, with a particular focus on the role of political behavior in shaping the policy choices of states. Among his recent studies are ones that have examined the rise of new accountability and financing policies for higher education, the influences on public funding for higher education, and the impacts of policies and practices that are designed to increase the performance of private and public colleges and universities. In a related vein of research, Dr. McLendon has studied the effects of campus and state policies on college student success.

He has published widely on these topics in the leading journals in the fields of higher education and education policy studies. In 2013 and 2014, he was named one of the nation’s leading university-based academics whose research contributes most substantially to public debates about K-12 and higher education.

Much of Dr. McLendon’s scholarship has found support from foundations and public agencies. He has been a principal investigator or a lead consultant on national studies funded by the Lumina Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. He consults with governors, legislatures and state boards of education.  Dr. McLendon also advises campuses and national organizations on matters relating to strategic leadership in response to changing financial and fiscal conditions for higher education.

A recipient of a number of awards in recognition of outstanding teaching and mentoring, Professor McLendon instructs graduate and undergraduate courses on university governance and finance, leadership and organization behavior, public policy and higher education, and American public policy.

He is active in national and international professional associations, and is a former elected member of the Board of Directors of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE).  Additionally, Dr. McLendon serves or has served on the editorial boards of Research in Higher Education, The Review of Higher Education, Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, and the Politics of Education Yearbook.

Dr. McLendon has held a number of academic leadership roles, in addition to his current duties at SMU. From 1999 to 2012, he served as a professor of public policy and higher education at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, where he held the role of executive associate dean and chief of staff (2008-2011). His portfolio included academic affairs, state and community relations, and strategic initiatives. While at Vanderbilt, Dr. McLendon also directed the university’s doctoral and master’s programs in higher-education studies (2005-2009), led its master’s program in public policy (2005-2010), and chaired the academic policies and affairs committees of the University Senate.

He earned his Ph.D. in higher education studies from the University of Michigan, an M.S. in higher education from Florida State University, and a B.A. in political science from Baylor University. Prior to undertaking his doctoral studies, McLendon served as a policy analyst in the Florida House of Representatives and as a staff member in the United States Senate in Washington, D.C. In 2008, he was named a distinguished young alumnus of his undergraduate alma mater.


The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required.

Please RSVP to tower@smu.edu.

If you are interested in joining the Tower Center Forum, please contact Luisa del Rosal at lmdelrosal@smu.edu.