• Cecilia M. Orphan, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Higher Education Department in the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver and Co-Director of the Alliance for Research on Regional Colleges. She researches Regional Public Colleges and Universities, Rural Serving Postsecondary Institutions, and organization, administration, and public policy for higher education. She has published over 25 journal articles, policy briefs, and book chapters and is co-editing a forthcoming book entitled Unlocking Opportunity through Broadly Accessible Institutions (Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group). Her research has appeared in or been accepted by The Journal of Higher EducationThe Journal of Diversity in Higher EducationThe Review of Higher EducationHigher Education, the Journal of Education Policy, and the Journal of Research in Rural Education and has been funded by the Ascendium Foundation and the Joyce Foundation. She has been quoted by The Chronicle of Higher EducationInsideHigherEd, Chalkbeat Colorado, and Open Campus.

    Dr. Orphan is a member of the Scholars Strategy Network where she has contributed policy briefs describing the challenges and opportunities facing Regional Public Universities (RPUs). She is also an at-large member of the Association for the Study of Higher Education's Council for Public Policy in Higher Education and has seved on the conference planning committees for the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) and the American Educational Research Association (AERA). She serves on the editorial board of the eJournal of Public Affairs, an open-access journal housed at Missouri State University (an RPU), and reviews for Teacher-Scholar, Higher EducationThe Journal of Higher Education, AERA Open, the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, and the Journal for the Study of Postsecondary and Tertiary Education. Previously she served on the editorial board of the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education's Perspectives on Urban Education journal. She has held fellowships with the Publicly Active Graduate Education initiative of Imagining America, the Next Generation Engagement Project of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education, the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy of the University of Pennsylvania, and the International Association for Research on Service Learning and Civic Engagement. 

    Prior to her doctoral program, Dr. Orphan directed the American Democracy Project (ADP), a national initiative of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). The 240 Regional Public Universities involved in ADP focus on higher education's role in educating informed, engaged participants for U.S. democracy. While at AASCU, Dr. Orphan also served as the editor of the Academic Leadership and Change Digest series, a collection of queries about current institutional practices that are used by AASCU provosts as they consider new approaches to campus issues. In 2011, she was awarded the John Saltmarsh Award for Emerging Leaders in Civic Engagement, a national award given by AASCU presented annually to an emerging leader in the civic engagement field. 

    Dr. Orphan's research agenda is informed by her experiences as a working class, first-generation college student who received maximum Pell grants to attend college. She is personally familiar with the transformative nature of access institutions having attended Linn Benton Community College and Portland State University, an RPU in Oregon. Simply put, attending these access institutions changed the trajectory of her life. Dr. Orphan holds a Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Portland State University.  

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  • Areas of Expertise

    • Public Policy and Finance 
    • Organizational Governance and Academic Administration
    • Regional Public Universities
    • Rural Serving Postsecondary Institutions
    • Civic Engagement
    • Neoliberal Theory and the Privatization of Higher Education
  • Curriculum Vitae

  • ASHE Video Challenge: Full Participation for Regional Public Universities

This portfolio last updated: 15-Jan-2021 11:37 AM