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Chuck Carney
IU School of Education

Last modified: Tuesday, June 23, 2009

National organization honors Hossler for contributions to institutional research

June 23, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Don Hossler, the executive associate dean at Indiana University's School of Education, has been named the Sidney Suslow Award recipient by the Association for Institutional Research (AIR).

The award honors his distinguished scholarly contributions to institutional research. The AIR award committee selects honorees "for their cumulative and ongoing scholarly efforts to keep institutional research on the cutting edge of research practice, policies and procedures in higher education," according to the organization's Web site. While the Suslow Award is presented at the group's annual forum, it is not always an annual award; it is given to an honoree only when the selection committee receives a nomination that meets the award criteria.

Hossler is an internationally recognized expert on issues of college choice, student financial aid policy, enrollment management and higher education finance. His nearly 50 articles in peer-reviewed academic journals are widely cited in other research. Hossler has authored or co-authored six books, including 1998's Going to College: How Social, Economic, and Educational Factors Influence the Decisions Students Make.

"It's mandatory reading for anyone doing research on this broad and important topic," said Rob Toutkoushian of the book when he introduced Hossler during the award presentation earlier this month at AIR's annual forum. Toutkoushian is an associate professor in the IU Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.

"I was delighted to see Don selected to receive the Suslow Award," said Gerardo Gonzalez, dean of the IU School of Education. "His work has influenced higher education policy for decades. Given President Obama's stated goal of having the greatest proportion of college graduates among nations in the world by the year 2020, Don's research is more important today than ever."

Hossler said the award was a surprise, but quite gratifying. "I have always had a really strong interest in how research could inform institutional practice, and the Association of Institutional Research is the primary membership organization for people who do research on campuses," he said.

Hossler was appointed to IU's faculty in 1985. He became vice chancellor for enrollment services in 1997, and he became associate vice president for academic affairs in 2001 -- positions he maintained until 2005. He became executive associate dean for the School of Education in 2008 -- a role he also served from 1996 to 1997.

His research arises from issues he discovers while working in the field of institutional leadership. "I often describe my research as being driven by 'I bump into problems,'" Hossler said. "Then I begin to wonder, 'Gee, is there some way that research could help inform that?'" Good institutional research can either narrow a myriad of choices to a manageable few, he said, or give many more options when just a few seem likely.

Hossler has consulted with numerous colleges, universities and related educational organizations, including the College Board, Educational Testing Services, the Pew Charitable Trust, and the U.S. government's General Accounting Office. He was an expert witness in the nearly three-decade Knight v. State of Alabama case that challenged Alabama's state college and university policies on the grounds that they were discriminatory. Hossler also has lived in Russia and conducted research on change and reform of higher education in that country.

Regarding Indiana higher education, Hossler concluded a series of studies last year through the "Indiana Project on Academic Success" -- a collaboration with higher education institutions around the state to examine data, and identify and research challenges to college students' success. Recent studies have examined factors surrounding the success of Ivy Tech Community College students across the state, including factors affecting transfers, mobile students and new college students.

Hossler is the third Sidney Suslow Award recipient with ties to the IU School of Education. In 2003, AIR recognized Trudy W. Banta, professor of higher education and senior advisor to the chancellor for academic planning and evaluation at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

In 2002, the Sidney Suslow Award went to George Kuh, chancellor's professor of higher education and director of the Center for Postsecondary Research.