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Last modified: Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pike latest higher education faculty member selected for prestigious national award

April 8, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The Association for Institutional Research (AIR) has selected Gary R. Pike, executive director of Information Management and Institutional Research at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and an associate professor of Higher Education in the Indiana University School of Education, for the prestigious Sidney Suslow Award. Pike is the second School of Education faculty member in the last two years to earn the award, given by AIR to note a long record of contributing to the development of higher education institutional research, planning or administrative decision-making.

The 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. It is not necessarily given every year, but only when the selection committee receives a nomination that meets the award criteria.

"Gary is considered by some of the most respected leaders in the field to be among a half-dozen of the best statisticians working in higher education today," said Trudy W. Banta, professor of higher education and senior advisor to the chancellor for academic planning and evaluation at IUPUI and herself a Suslow award winner (in 2003). "He has a gift for explaining complex concepts in clear, understandable terms." Banta said the fact that he's received four "Best Paper" awards from AIR is testament to his expertise and his communication skills.

Overall, AIR has selected four School of Education faculty for the Suslow Award, more than any other institution. Professor of Higher Education Don Hossler won the award in 2009. Before Banta's selection in 2003, the Suslow Award went to George Kuh, chancellor's professor of higher education and director of the Center for Postsecondary Research. -"These distinguished faculty have contributed immensely to the advancement of higher education throughout the world," said Gerardo Gonzalez, dean of the IU School of Education. "They are largely responsible for the international reputation of the Higher Education and Student Affairs program at Indiana University."

Pike is internationally recognized for scholarship on assessment of student learning and institutional effectiveness.

"I'd like to think that people see the research that I've done as useful beyond just the technical kinds of things you do in institutional research," Pike said, noting that a recent electronic search revealed an article he authored was cited 160 times, indicating other scholars and researchers are paying attention.

Pike's research has delved into many aspects of higher education student and institutional success, including the impact of residential learning communities (which bring together students with similar interests), the importance of high school on freshman success, adult learners and the connection of the U.S. News and World Report rankings to measures of learning quality. He's delivered more than 100 presentations and workshops across the U.S. and Canada and written 46 refereed articles in scholarly journals as well as a dozen book chapters.

Before joining IUPUI in 2006, Pike was director of institutional research at Mississippi State University and director of student life studies at the University of Missouri. He had worked with Banta, Kuh and other higher education faculty members before coming to Indiana. "When I came here it was a real sense of coming to someplace," Pike said. "It really was an opportunity to work with people I knew, I liked, and I respected, and that's an awfully nice way to finish up your career.

The award will be presented to Pike during the AIR Annual Forum, the organization's national conference, starting May 29 in Chicago.