Michael K. McLendon

Southern Methodist University

3101 University Blvd, Ste 247
Southern Methodist University
Dallas, TX
mmclendon@smu.edu |  Visit Personal Website

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Michael K. McLendon is the Simmons Centennial Professor of Education Policy and the Associate Dean at Southern Methodist University's Simmons School of Education and Human Development. His research focuses on politics, public policy, and public governance and finance of higher education in the American states. Among the studies in which he currently is engaged are ones that examine the origins and spread of new accountability, governance, and financing policies for higher education; the determinants of changes in state funding of higher education; factors influencing changes in tuition setting at public universities; and, state legislators' perceptions of and involvements in the policy domain of higher education.

McLendon, Michael, K., James C. Hearn, and Christine Mokher. 2009. "Partisans, Professionals, and Power: The Role of Political Factors in State Higher Education Funding." The Journal of Higher Education 80 (6): 686-713.
Abstract: Despite real growth in total appropriations of state tax funds for postsecondary operating expenses, state investment in higher education has declined in recent years relative to changes in enrollment, state wealth, and the growth of institutional budgets. What factors are associated with state investment in higher education over time? In this paper, we report the results of a longitudinal analysis of factors associated with state funding effort for higher education. Using a panel data set and a fixed-effects analysis that we conducted on the drivers of state appropriations to higher education from 1984 to 2004, we find that population, postsecondary enrollment patterns, and economic conditions affect funding levels. Our analysis also points, however, to political influences shaping public choice. Notably, we find strong empirical evidence that partisanship, legislative professionalism, term limits, interest groups, and gubernatorial power influence appropriations levels. Less than a decade ago, the evidence for these kinds of relationships was tenuous; today, the empirical record has accumulated in support of the claim that politics ?matters? in helping shape public spending on higher education. We explore some of the implications of these relationships, both for scholarship and for policy making in the states.
McLendon, Michael, K. Christine G. Mokher, and William Doyle. 2009. "Privileging Public Research Universities: The Political Economy of State Appropriations to Higher Education." Journal of Education Finance 34 (4): 372-401.
Abstract: While numerous studies have examined the determinants of overall state funding for higher education, there are no empirical studies attempting to explain how state legislatures distribute appropriations to different types of institutions within each state. This article reports the results of an examination of across-state variation in the level of state appropriations allocated to public four-year universities, and the distribution of these appropriations to Carnegie research universities relative to other non-research universities. Deploying a form of hierarchical linear modeling, we examine the economic, demographic, political, and policy conditions of states that are associated with state funding of all public four-year universities, and with the relative state investment in research and non-research universities. Our analysis suggests that one of the primary reasons why some states appear to ?privilege? their research universities is because the research universities in these states tend to engage in more expensive types of activities than the non-research universities. Yet, our analysis points also to certain political influences which tend disproportionately to benefit research universities, including the proportion of appropriations committee members in a state legislature that graduated from the institution. Legislators, in effect, appear to privilege those institutions with which they hold close personal ties.
McLendon, M.K., Christine G., Mokher, and Stella M. Flores. 2011. "Legislative Agenda-Setting for In-State Resident Tuition Policies: Immigration, Representation, and Educational Access." American Journal of Education 117 (4): 563-602.
Abstract: Few recent issues in higher education have been as contentious as that of legislation extending in-state college tuition benefits to undocumented students, initiatives known as in-state resident tuition (ISRT) policies. Building on several strands of literature in political science and in higher-education studies, we analyze the effects of state demographic, economic, political, and policy conditions on the likelihood of these initiatives becoming positioned for legislative action during the period, 1999 - 2007. We develop and test a theoretical framework distilled from research on ?descriptive and substantive representation? in U.S. politics. Our event history analysis finds the percentage of female legislators (an indicator of descriptive representation), the percentage of the population that is foreign-born, the level of unemployment, and the type of higher-education governance in a state as being associated with the likelihood of an ISRT initiative achieving the legislative agenda.

Substantive Focus:
Education Policy PRIMARY
Governance SECONDARY

Theoretical Focus:
Policy Process Theory SECONDARY
Agenda-Setting, Adoption, and Implementation PRIMARY
Policy Analysis and Evaluation