Campus News

McBee Institute director receives distinguished career award

McBee faculty, students and graduates attended the awards ceremony to honor James Hearn, center. (Submitted photo)

Hearn receives the Howard R. Bowen Distinguished Career Award for devotion to study of higher education

James C. Hearn, professor of higher education and interim director of the Louise McBee Institute of Higher Education, recently received the 2023 Howard R. Bowen Distinguished Career Award from the Association for the Study of Higher Education.

The Bowen Award is given in recognition of a professional life “devoted to the study of higher education and a career that advanced the field through scholarship, leadership and service,” according to the association’s website.

Hearn has been an active scholar and instructor of higher education for more than 40 years. Prior to his arrival at the University of Georgia, he served as a faculty member at the University of Minnesota and Vanderbilt University.

His nomination letter cites Hearn’s impact on research, teaching and service to higher education. The letter states, “He has a robust publication record, has mentored numerous students and junior colleagues, has demonstrated leadership both locally and nationally, and has helped shape the very field of higher education.”

Over his career, Hearn has authored or co-authored more than 150 publications including more than 50 peer-reviewed articles.

Hearn served in formal roles with the American Council of Education, Association for Institutional Research, ASHE and AERA. He has also been a member of advisory and/or editorial boards of several leading journals in higher education, including the Journal of Higher Education, the Review of Higher Education, Research in Higher Education and the ASHE/ERIC Higher Education Reports Series. He was also an associate editor of both Educational Researcher and Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research.

Hearn is a sought-after instructor and committee member. A reviewer noted how he “approaches the [instruction and mentoring] roles with care, compassion and rigor.” In all he has directed more than 60 dissertation committees and served on several times that many committees.

Hearn received the award as part of a ceremony on Nov. 17 held during the association’s annual conference in Minneapolis.

In his remarks, Hearn acknowledged the role of colleagues and his family in his achievements. “An award like this is for individual efforts, but I wouldn’t be here without having opportunities to work with so many wonderful people along the way.”

Hearn also expressed optimism for the work being produced in his main research subfields, including postsecondary equity and attainment and institutional and system effectiveness. “[A]s I get ready to leave the field, I feel very confident that critical questions are being addressed really well by a whole host of emerging scholars.”

Previous honors received by Hearn include the inaugural Excellence in Public Policy of Higher Education Award, Council on Public Policy in Higher Education, Association for the Study of Higher Education (2014), TIAA Institute Fellow, and the Distinguished Research Award of Division J of the American Educational Research Association (1994).

Two other McBee Institute faculty have received this award since its inception in 1985: Former Louise McBee Professor of Higher Education Sheila Slaughter in 2014 and past institute Director Cameron Fincher in 1991.

Video of the ceremony and more about the award is available at