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Professor awarded national ranking

On Jan. 11, Dr. Robert Kelchen, an Assistant Professor with the Department of Education Leadership, Management and Policy, ranked No. 32 out of the top 200 professors a group of national educators ranked, which looked at approximately 20,000 faculty in total. Education Week and American Enterprise Institute made this announcement.

Director of Media Relations Laurie Pine, who has worked closely with Dr. Kelchen, commented on his achievement.

“It was announced today by Education Week and American Enterprise Institute that Seton Hall’s Robert Kelchen made No. 32 out of the top 200 professors that Rick Hess and a group of national educators ranked, looking at approximately 20,000 faculty - as those who are making a difference engaging with public policy on important higher education issues.,” Pine wrote in an email.

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She provided additional important details about Dr. Kelchen’s achievement, conveying just how meaningful it is.

“I think that makes him number 1 for N.J. scholar influencer professors on the list,” Pine said.

“Kelchen was also recognized in Education Week’s related rankings as number four in the nation out of the top 10 influencers in the area of Government and Policy along with colleagues from Harvard, UCLA and USC.”

“Having approximately 116 interviews published in the last year, he tied for first place (along with Temple’s Sara Goldrick-Rab) for receiving the most mentions by the education press and was ranked sixth in the nation for mentions in mainstream U.S. newspapers in general. He also received a ranking of first place in the nation in the Junior Faculty category,” she continued.

Dr. Kelchen shared insight about why he pursued higher education in the first place.

“I was active in student government when I was in college and became interested in the finances of higher education through chairing a committee reviewing student fees,” he said in an email. “I then worked on a research project in graduate school looking at the effects of a scholarship program on financially needy college students. At that point, I was hooked on studying higher education.”

Now that he is in higher education, he wants to help students solve pressing issues like affording the universities they attend.

“I think the most pressing issue in higher education today is college affordability,” Dr. Kelchen explained. “Many students are struggling to pay for college even after taking out loans, state governments are seeing their budgets squeezed by factors such as pension benefits and healthcare, and the federal government is worried about the billions of dollars in loans that students are unable to repay. This will be an even bigger concern as soon as the next recession hits and more people want to go back to college to be more employable.”

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Dr. Kelchen is skeptical about how much progress can be made, though, in consideration of the government shutdown.

“I don’t expect to see major changes in higher education over the next year at the national level, particularly with a gridlocked Congress,” he continued.

He believes there is hope with new presidential candidates and legislation.

Said Dr. Kelchen, “But keep an eye on what Democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential nomination are proposing, as college affordability is becoming a key campaign issue. Here in New Jersey, I’m looking forward to the college affordability proposals that the secretary of higher education’s office is working on,”

Kaitlyn Quinn can be reached at


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