Does Publicness Matter? Determining the Impacts of Public Funding and State Authority on Higher Education's Ability to Achieve State Goals
Sophia Laderman

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of Denver

Primary Discipline

State involvement in public higher education is intended to promote the broad societal contributions of higher education, which include economic, civic, and social benefits to the state. States use authority and funding to drive institutional behavior and achieve their vision of the public good. Research has scarcely addressed how state funding and authority impact institutional behavior. As a result, higher education advocates are ill-equipped to convince policymakers of the importance of continued state investments in higher education. This study examines the effectiveness of the mechanisms of state funding and authority at driving institutional behavior to meet state goals for higher education amidst a dynamic landscape of declining per-student state funding and increasing institutional accountability to the state. Using an innovative three-way fixed effects model and a cross-sectional panel dataset of all public four-year institutions in the United States, this study employs resource dependence and principal-agent theory to examine how effectively states with varying contexts, funding, and authority over higher education are able to shape and direct the behavior of different types of institutions over time towards outcomes that benefit the public good.
About Sophia Laderman
Sophia Laderman is a Ph.D. candidate in higher education at the University of Denver and a senior policy analyst at the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO). Her interests center around forming evidence-based policy and promoting the public benefits of higher education, and she is particularly interested in how and why public postsecondary finance and affordability policies are adopted and the ramifications of such polices. In addition to her dissertation, Sophia's current research focuses on understanding ?publicness' and volatility in higher education finance policy, as well as the role of intermediary public policy organizations in the policy process. At SHEEO, Sophia focuses on higher education finance policy. She leads the State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) project and manages a grant-funded expansion of the SHEF data collection. She has also co-authored reports on student equity, tuition, and affordability. Before joining SHEEO, Sophia worked in admissions at the University of Colorado Boulder and as a research coordinator at Duke University. Sophia has a B.A. from the University of Hawai?i Hilo and an M.P.A. from the University of Colorado Denver.

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