Sara Goldrick-Rab

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Sara Goldrick-Rab
Sara Goldrick-Rab 2016.jpg
Goldrick-Rab, 2016
Nationality American
Occupation Professor
Academic background
Alma mater University of Pennsylvania
Academic work
Discipline Sociologist of education
Institutions University of Wisconsin–Madison (2004-2016) Temple University (2016-Present)

Sara Youcha Goldrick-Rab is Professor of Higher Education Policy and Sociology at Temple University.[1] A sociologist of higher education, Goldrick-Rab's research focuses on policies that aim to reduce socioeconomic and racial inequalities.[2] She received the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Early Career Award in 2014[3] and the 2018 Grawemeyer Award for Education.[4]

Early life[edit]

Goldrick-Rab grew up in Fairfax, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. She describes herself as an "East Coast Jewish woman" who was "taught to be outspoken and forthright."[5] Goldrick-Rab graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a Ph.D. in sociology in 2004.[5] She intended to pursue a career in applied research until she was encouraged to apply for a position in higher education policy and sociology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Goldrick-Rab accepted the position in 2004 with the intent to make Wisconsin colleges more accessible.[5] In 2016, Goldrick-Rab left the University of Wisconsin-Madison to accept a position in higher education policy and sociology at Temple University.[6] She married Liam Goldrick, who also works in education policy, in 2005,[7][8] although the couple has since divorced.[9] They have two children, a son and a daughter.[10][11] In 2017, Goldrick-Rab and Howard Strug became engaged[12], and the couple married later that year.[13]


Her scholarship focuses on postsecondary access and equity, with particular emphasis on financial aid and community colleges. In a study with University of Wisconsin economist Douglas Harris, Goldrick-Rab explored outcomes of low-income students receiving supplemental grants[14] and found that the grants benefitted comparatively disadvantaged students most, such as first-generation college students with lower ACT scores.[15][16] In an early study of Single Stop, an on-campus program that connects community college students to government services, Goldrick-Rab found that participant retention improved.[17]

Goldrick-Rab served as the lead author of the Brookings Institution's 2009 “Transforming America's Community Colleges” report. Many of its recommendations were included in President Barack Obama’s American Graduation Initiative later that year.[18][19] She served on a Century Foundation community college equity task force, whose 2013 report recommended more funding for community colleges and reduction of economic and racial stratification between community colleges and four-year universities.[20][21] As part of the report, Goldrick-Rab co-authored a background paper with Peter Kinsley that highlighted disparities between predominantly white community colleges and those with predominantly minority enrollment.[20] On April 16, 2013, Goldrick-Rab testified before the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions regarding the challenge of college affordability,[22] which impacted federal legislation on financial aid limits for working students.[23]

In April 2014, Goldrick-Rab and Nancy Kendall released a Lumina Foundation-funded report that advocated for a free two-year college option. The proposal called for all students to receive two free years of education at a public college or university, including most living expenses, in exchange for fifteen hours per week of work-study employment.[24] The New York Times cited the report as a “clear influence on the Obama plan” for free community college introduced during the 2015 State of the Union Address.[25] The Chronicle of Higher Education similarly included Goldrick-Rab first on their list of people who influenced the plan.[26] Goldrick-Rab praised the Tennessee Promise program, the basis for Obama’s free community college plan. While she appreciated how it makes college attendance a financial possibility for students, she noted its weakness in not providing for their living expenses.[27]

The plan for two free years of college proposed by Goldrick-Rab and Kendall faced extensive criticism, including concerns about its lack of detail, vague definitions of length, and apparent focus on full-time students.[28] David Breneman, an economics of education professor at the University of Virginia, described the plan as “not realistic”.[29] Robert Kelchen, assistant professor at Seton Hall University, called the proposal "unworkable" given its removal of federal financial aid for students attending private universities.[30] Chris Rickert of the Wisconsin State Journal argued that the plan would shortchange Wisconsin private institutions that enroll and graduate more minority students than University of Wisconsin System schools.[31] Similarly, Minnesota higher education commissioner Larry Pogemiller emphasized that the plan neglected private institutions, covered only two years of college, and subsidized all students regardless of financial background.[32]

Goldrick-Rab founded the Wisconsin Harvesting Opportunities for Postsecondary Education (HOPE) Lab in May 2014 to test the efficacy of college affordability programs. The lab received $6.5 million in potential funding from the Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation, and additional support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Lumina Foundation, and others.[23] A December 2015 HOPE Lab report noted trends in food insecurity for college students.[33] Following her The New York Times op-ed, Inside Higher Ed's Matt Reed commended Goldrick-Rab for the study's focus on student precarity rather than poverty alone.[34]

Goldrick-Rab spoke against Wisconsin's elimination of faculty tenure from state statute in July 2015.[35][36] Her subsequent Twitter activity, in which she compared the state governor with Adolf Hitler and discouraged future students from attending the university, drew criticism from conservative news groups.[37] Madison's Faculty Senate steering committee responded that they were "deeply dismayed" by her actions, which they felt had damaged the principle of academic freedom.[38] Goldrick-Rab left Wisconsin in 2016 to begin an appointment at Temple University. In her departure, she criticized the effect of the state's tenure policy on the university's teaching environment.[39]

Goldrick-Rab is the author of the book Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream,[40] which was published in 2016. Paying the Price is about the high cost of higher education in the United States for college and university students, and how the high cost of higher education in the United States has negatively impacted the lives of those who attend college in the United States.

She received the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Early Career Award in 2014.[41] In 2016, Goldrick-Rab was listed in the "Politico 50" list published by Politico Magazine; Goldrick-Rab was listed 13th alongside Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Adam Green and Demos senior policy analyst Mark Huelsman for their work in making proposals to make higher education free for many college and university students in the United States part of the American political mainstream.[42] In November 2017, it was announced that Goldrick-Rab won the 2018 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Education[43], and Goldrick-Rab donated the $100,000 cash prize for winning the Grawemeyer Award for Education to a fund designed to help college students with financial emergencies.[44]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Goldrick-Rab, Sara. 2006. "Following Their Every Move: An Investigation of Social-Class Differences in College Pathways." Sociology of Education 79 (1):67–79.
  • Goldrick-Rab, Sara. 2010. "Challenges and Opportunities for Improving Community College Student Success." Review of Educational Research 80 (3):437–69.
  • Kelly, Andrew P. and Sara Goldrick-Rab. 2014. Reinventing Financial Aid: Charting a New Course to College Affordability. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
  • Shaw, Kathleen M., Sara Goldrick-Rab, Christopher Mazzeo, and Jerry A. Jacobs. 2006. Putting Poor People to Work: How the Work-First Idea Eroded College Access for the Poor. Russell Sage Foundation.


  1. ^ "Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab to Join College of Education Faculty". Temple University College of Education. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  2. ^ "Biography". Wisconsin Scholars Longitudinal Study. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  3. ^ "AERA Announces 2014 Award Winners in Education Research". American Educational Research Association. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  4. ^ Cappiello, Janet. "Sara Goldrick-Rab wins Grawemeyer Award in Education". U of L News. University of Louisville. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Finkelmeyer, Todd (May 4, 2011). "Outspoken Professor Gives Biddy Martin's Plan a Failing Grade". The Capital Times. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Sara Goldrick-Rab Will Leave Wisconsin for Temple". Inside Higher Ed. 8 March 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  7. ^ Price, Jenny (Spring 2011). "Brave New Blogs". On Wisconsin Magazine. pp. 26–31. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  8. ^ "Marriages". The Capital Times. June 6, 2005. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  9. ^ Goldrick-Rab, Sara (2016). Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream. p. Acknowledgements.
  10. ^ "Births". The Capital Times. February 5, 2007. p. B3. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  11. ^ "Births". Wisconsin State Journal. January 4, 2010. p. A4. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  12. ^ "RIA # 51: Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab on Planning and Preparing for Media Attention". Oregon State University Ecampus Research Unit. Oregon State University. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  13. ^ Goldrick-Rab, Sara. "I got married Saturday night & love my husband @wordman179 for cheering us on #RealCollege all day via text! He's a keeper!". Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  14. ^ Ziff, Deborah (July 27, 2008). "A Study on Grant Students: Big Donor for Grants Prompted the Project". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  15. ^ Ziff, Deborah (July 8, 2011). "Study: Aid Helps Least Likely to Succeed; Students with Lower Grades Stayed in School Longer If They Received Morgridge Grants". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  16. ^ Supiano, Becky (July 7, 2011). "Students Least Likely to Persist Benefit Most From Extra Financial Aid, Study Finds". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  17. ^ Rosenberg, Tina (March 26, 2014). "For Striving Students, a Connection to Money". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  18. ^ Jackson, Derrick (July 18, 2009). "Community Colleges' New Clout". Boston Globe. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  19. ^ Finkelmeyer, Todd (July 20, 2009). "UW-Madison Profs Help Shape Bold Initiative for Community Colleges". The Capital Times. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  20. ^ a b The Century Foundation Task Force on Preventing Community Colleges from Becoming Separate and Unequal (2013). "Bridging the Higher Education Divide: Strengthening Community Colleges and Restoring the American Dream" (PDF). The Century Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  21. ^ Leonhardt, David (May 22, 2013). "Though Enrolling More Poor Students, 2-Year Colleges Get Less of Federal Pie". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  22. ^ "Testimony of Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab" (PDF). Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, United States Senate. April 16, 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  23. ^ a b Schneider, Pat (October 29, 2014). "Degrees of Risk: UW-Madison Professor Sara Goldrick-Rab Says College Is a Financial Gamble for Many Students". The Capital Times. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  24. ^ Goldrick-Rab, Sara; Kendall, Nancy (April 2014). "Redefining College Affordability: Securing America's Future with a Free Two Year College Option" (PDF). Lumina Foundation. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  25. ^ Leonhardt, David (January 9, 2015). "Obama's Community-College Plan: A Reading List". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  26. ^ Mangan, Katherine; Supiano, Becky (January 11, 2015). "The Players Who Influenced Obama's Free-College Plan". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  27. ^ Kelderman, Eric (January 8, 2015). "Obama Puts Tennessee's Free-College Plan on a National Stage". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  28. ^ Reed, Matt (April 21, 2014). "Thoughts on F2CO". Confessions of a Community College Dean (Inside Higher Ed blog).
  29. ^ Marcus, Jon. "Two New Proposals Would Make College Free Nationwide". Money. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  30. ^ Kelchen, Robert (December 14, 2014). "The 2014 Top Ten Higher Education List". Kelchen on Education. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  31. ^ Rickert, Chris (April 24, 2014). "Extending Welfare to the Well-Off Community College Student". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  32. ^ Lerner, Maura (July 15, 2014). "On Campus Beat: 2 Plans for a Free College Education". Star Tribune. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  33. ^ Colarusso, Laura M. "Think finals are tough? Real challenge for growing number of college students is getting enough to eat". The Hechinger Report. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  34. ^ Reed, Matt. "First Things First". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  35. ^ "Wisconsin faculty incensed by motion to eliminate tenure from state statute - InsideHigherEd". Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  36. ^ Pat Schneider. "Sara Goldrick-Rab: Tenure changes would signal it's time to leave UW-Madison". Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  37. ^ "Wisconsin Professor's Tweets to New Students Raise Republican Hackles". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  38. ^ "Who Crossed the Line?". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  39. ^ Troop, Don (March 8, 2016). "Sara Goldrick-Rab to Depart U. of Wisconsin, Citing '#FakeTenure' and 'Terrified Sheep'". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Archived from the original on March 9, 2016. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
  40. ^ Goldrick-Rab, Sara. "Paying the Price". Sara Goldrick-Rab. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  41. ^ "Early Career Award". American Educational Research Association. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  42. ^ Lenton, Colin. "Sara Goldrick-Rab, Adam Green, Mark Huelsman". Politico Magazine. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  43. ^ Cappiello, Janet. "Sara Goldrick-Rab wins Grawemeyer Award in Education". U of L News. University of Louisville. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  44. ^ Snyder, Susan. "Temple prof donates $100,000 prize to help struggling students". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 15 December 2017.

External links[edit]

  1. ^ "Wisconsin HOPE Lab: Staff". Wisconsin HOPE Lab. Retrieved 30 September 2016.