The 15-member Board approves research priorities for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), an independent, nonpartisan branch of the U.S. Department of Education that is charged with supporting research for education practice and policy. Congress provided more than $700 million to IES for the most recent fiscal year. Board members advise the IES Director on policies and activities, including the general areas of research to be carried out by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the National Center for Education Evaluation (NCEE), the National Center for Education Research (NCER), and the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER). The Board also evaluates the work of IES and solicits input from the field on research priorities that will significantly improve schools and postsecondary institutions across the country.
“I accepted this important assignment because it is a consequential opportunity to help inform federal investments into high-impact, responsive, and rigorous research that actually does something to fix longstanding inequities that chronically disadvantage particular schools and long-underserved student populations,” says Harper, who holds the Clifford and Betty Allen Chair in Urban Leadership at the USC Rossier School of Education.
This isn’t Harper’s first engagement with The White House. In 2014, the University of Pennsylvania Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education (now the USC Race and Equity Center), which Harper founded and directs, hosted the White House Summit on Educational Excellence for African Americans. The national event was held on the Penn campus. A year later, he was appointed to President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance national advisory council. Harper served on the education policy committee for the Biden-Harris campaign in 2020. Additionally, he has spoken at several White House and U.S. Department of Education convenings.
Earlier this year, Harper was named University Professor, a distinction bestowed only to 26 of USC’s 4,700 full-time faculty members. He also is a Provost Professor, which is an extraordinarily accomplished cadre of 14 interdisciplinary faculty members who hold appointments in two or more academic schools at the University.
Harper served as the 2020-21 American Educational Research Association (AERA) president and the 2016-17 Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) president. AERA past presidents Linda Darling-Hammond and Carol Lee are also among Biden’s appointees to the National Board this year.
Harper has been awarded more than $21 million in grants from Atlantic Philanthropies and the Bill & Melinda Gates, Lumina, Kresge, ECMC, Ford, Kellogg, Sloan, College Futures, and Open Society Foundations. The Center he leads has secured an additional $13 million for its research and evaluation, professional learning, and equity advising activities.
A 2021 inductee into the National Academy of Education, Harper is a graduate of Albany State, a Historically Black University in Georgia. His master’s and Ph.D. are from Indiana University. He has been awarded four honorary degrees, and has been repeatedly recognized in Education Week as one of the 10 most influential professors in the field.