Dougherty, Kevin J. (kd109)

Kevin J. Dougherty

Professor Emeritus of Higher Education and Education Policy

Office Location:

211A Zankel

Educational Background

  • B.A., Washington University, Political Science.
  • M.A., Ph.D. Harvard University, Sociology.

Scholarly Interests

Higher education policy and reform. The community college. College students. Sociology of education. Political sociology. Economic sociology.

Prof. Dougherty's current research is focused on two main topics: (1) class and race inequalties in information about higher education and the role of those inequalities in the production and legitimation of class and race gaps in college access and success; (2) post-Lukesian theories of political power integrating insights from post-structuralist theory and the sociology of culture. In the past, Professor Dougherty has done extensive research and writing on neoliberalism and higher education policymaking; the origins and impacts of state performance funding programs; state policies affecting access to, and success in, community colleges by low-income students and students of color; policies affecting immigrant student access to higher education; the historical origins and educational impacts on students of community colleges; the role of higher education in economic and workforce development; and industrial policy and state programs for science and technology-based economic development.

Selected Publications

Analyzing Neoliberalism in Theory and Practice: The Case of Performance-Based Funding for Higher Education (with Rebecca S. Natow).  Working Paper #43.  London, UK: UCL Institute of Education, Centre for Global Higher Education, March 2019.  Available from:

U.S. Industrial Policies, Left and Right: Convergence, Divergence, and Political Implications (with Tara Habibi). New York, NY: Teachers College, April 2021. Available from:

"Student Choice in Higher Education—Reducing or Reproducing Social Inequalities?" (with Claire Callender). Social Sciences (Basel), 7 (10) (2018), 1-28. Available from:

Higher Education Choice-Making in the United States: Freedom, Inequality, Legitimation.  Working Paper #35.  London, UK: Centre for Global Higher Education, UCL Institute of Education, May 2018.  Available from:

Reforming the American Community College: Promising Prospects and their Challenges (with Hana Lahr and Vanessa S. Morest).  New York, NY: Teachers College, Community College Research Center, November 2017.

Performance Funding for Higher Education (with Sosanya Jones, Hana Lahr, Rebecca S. Natow, Lara Pheatt, & Vikash Reddy), Johns Hopkins University Press, October 2016.

The Politics of Performance Funding for Higher Education: Origins, Discontinuations, and Transformations (with Rebecca S. Natow), Johns Hopkins University Press, May 2015.

“Looking Inside the Black Box of Performance Funding for Higher Education:  Policy Instruments, Outcomes, Obstacles, and Unintended Impacts” (with Sosanya Jones, Hana Lahr, Rebecca S. Natow, Lara Pheatt, & Vikash Reddy). Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, 2(1) (2016).

Performance Funding for Higher Education: What Are the Mechanisms? What Are the Impacts? (with Vikash Reddy).  ASHE Higher Education Report: Vol. 39, Number 2 (June 2013), pp. 1-133.

“Undocumented Immigrants and State Higher Education Policy: The Contrasting Politics of In-State Tuition Eligibility in Texas and Arizona” (with H. Kenny Nienhusser and Blanca E. Vega). Review of Higher Education 34 (1) (Fall 2010), pp. 123-173. 

“It’s Not Enough to Get Through the Open Door: Inequalities by Social Background in Transfer from Community Colleges to Four-Year Colleges” (with Greg Kienzl). Teachers College Record 108 (March 2006): 452-487.

“Community Colleges and Contract Training: Content, Origins, and Impacts” (with Marianne Bakia). Teachers College Record 102 (1) (Feb. 2000): 197-243.

"Opportunity to Learn Standards: A Sociological Critique." Sociology of Education 68 (May 1996): 40-65.

The Contradictory College: The Conflicting Origins, Impacts, and Futures of the Community College. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1994.  Winner of the Willard Waller Award for the Outstanding Book in the Sociology of Education in the years 1994-1996.

Willard Waller Award for the Outstanding Book in Sociology of Education, 1994-1996, Section on Sociology of Education, American Sociological Association, August 1997, for The Contradictory College (SUNY Press, 1994)

Critics' Choice Award, American Educational Studies Association, 1995, for The Contradictory College (SUNY Press, 1994)

Related Articles

Infrastructure and Industrial Policy, Left and Right: Political Implications

As President Biden fights for an ambitious infrastructure investment, political divisions — and common ground — offer insight for the debate ahead

Inside Higher Ed: Report on Performance-based Funding Cites CCRC's Kevin Dougherty.

In an Inside Higher Education article about performance-based funding formulas, which link support for public colleges to student completion rates, degree production numbers or other metrics, David Tandberg, an assistant professor of higher education at Florida State University, praises a new report by HCM Strategies for its use of portions of studies by Kevin J. Dougherty, an associate professor of higher education at Columbia University's Teachers College, a senior research associate with TC's Community College Research Center.

Ryan Allen's podcast discussion with Kevin Dougherty and Vikash Reddy.

Ryan Allen, an M.A. student in the Politics & Education Program at Teachers College has recently become a new host for the New Books in Education, a part of the New Books Network, which is a non-profit that offers podcasts in every academic field. New Books in Education show provides interviews with authors about their new publications related to the education field. In this podcast, Ryan interviews Prof. Kevin Dougherty, an Associate Professor of Higher Education and Education Policy, and Vikash Reddy, a Ph.D. candidate in Education Policy. They discuss their book Performance Funding for Higher Education; What are the Mechanisms What are the Impacts. The book was published in July 2013 at Jossey-Bass.

TC at AERA 2013

Some 172 faculty, students and others affiliated with Teachers College will present at "Education and Poverty: Theory, Research, Policy and Praxis," this year's meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), which will be held in San Francisco from April 27-May 1.

TC's Kevin Dougherty: Performance Funding Has Yet to Show Significant Impacts on Student Outcomes

Legislators and governors are scrutinizing colleges and universities to make sure scarce tax dollars aren't being wasted, even though there's little evidence that it makes schools better, Dougherty told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Video Highlights from TC's Other Curriculum

Video Highlights from TC's Other Curriculum

Educational Equity for Undocumented Students: Legislators to Discuss Dream Act for New York State on April 10 at TC

Senator Bill Perkins and State Representative Guillermo Linares will speak in Milbank Chapel April 10, followed by faculty panel discussion.

Living a Dream Deferred

Lenore Karo began higher education at age 51. She shows no signs of stopping.

Contesting a Dream

Would setting undocumented immigrants on the path to citizenship help society or hurt it? A controversial bill reignited long-standing passions

Employee News

Welcoming new employees, and celebrating promotions and long-term staff anniversaries.

Staffing News

Welcoming new employees, and celebrating promotions and long-term staff anniversaries

Ready to Take On the World

TC's newest students have big plans. Introducing Matthew Robinson, Naejin Kwak, Faye Calder, Jaleh Hamadani, KatyAnna Johnson, Jay Sobel, Angelica Quintero and Modinat Sanni

State Legislators Convene at TC

State Legislators Convene at TC

State Legislators to Meet at TC to Talk About Education

State legislators will convene at the Cowin Center on March 13 to share research and proven strategies for boosting student achievement. The National Conference of State Legislatures' annual Education Seminar is co-sponsored by TC's National Center for Postsecondary Research.

Study to Examine Performance-Based Financial Rewards for State Colleges

Kevin Dougherty, Associate Professor of Higher Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Senior Researcher at the College's Community College Research Center, has received a two-year grant of nearly $500,000 from Lumina Foundation for Education to study state performance funding systems for higher education.

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