Dr. Clifford Adelman, a talented scholar, lifelong student advocate, and senior associate emeritus at the Institute for Higher Education Policy, died on Thursday, May 3rd.
Dr. Adelman served as a senior associate from August 2006 to December 2017. Throughout his tenure, he was a key advisor for IHEP’s national and international research endeavors.
“Cliff was a gregarious soul with a fierce spirit,” said IHEP President Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D. “He resisted conventional thinking about higher education policy challenges and sought innovative solutions, while remaining an exemplary scholar. It’s no secret that Cliff kept policymakers, fellow researchers, and even me, on our toes in the very best of ways. His counsel, candor, and captivating comedy will be missed by me and many.”
As an IHEP senior associate, Dr. Adelman worked extensively on issues of accountability and assessment, student mobility and transfer patterns, the role of community college, and international issues in higher education. In 2008, Dr. Adelman authored Learning Accountability from Bologna: A Higher Education Policy Primer, which explored the reconstruction of 46 European higher education systems, known as the “Bologna Process.” He described the reconstructions as, “the most far-reaching and ambitious reform of higher education ever undertaken.” This research informed the creation of the Degree Qualifications Profile, a tool that sought to define baseline learning outcomes for associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree graduates. Dr. Adelman was instrumental in designing Project Win-Win, a 2009 IHEP initiative aimed at re-enrolling and graduating students with some college credit, but no conferred degree. To date, the strategies piloted through Project Win-Win are in practice at dozens of institutions, and have resulted in thousands new associate’s degrees.
In 2008, Inside Higher Ed described Dr. Adelman as, “…known for his ahead-of-the-curve and politically challenging analyses of higher ed.” He consistently used these analyses to change how the higher education community articulated and assessed student learning, tracked and supported students across institutions and state lines, and elevated issues of critical importance to students in need.
Before joining IHEP, Dr. Adelman was as a senior research analyst at the U.S. Department of Education, where he authored several reports that served as benchmarks in education, including Answers in the Tool Box: Academic Intensity, Attendance Patterns, and Bachelor's Degree Attainment (1999) and The Toolbox Revisited: Paths to Degree Completion from High School through College (2006). He provided critical contributions to the seminal 1983 report, A Nation at Risk, and designed national longitudinal datasets. Before federal service, Dr. Adelman was an administrator and educator at City College of New York, Roosevelt University, William Paterson College of New Jersey, and Yale University.
“Cliff was a true advocate for data-informed policy solutions,” said IHEP Board of Directors Chair Rob Anderson. “He was an invaluable thought partner to IHEP leaders and so many others in our field. His legacy will remain a source of inspiration to all of us for years to come.”