Despite higher education’s importance to the economic and social well-being of individuals and American society, rates of college and university degree completion vary dramatically according to race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

Dr. Laura Perna visited Bowdoin on Oct. 29, 2015, to talk about the roles of public policy and institutional practice in increasing higher education attainment overall and closing gaps in attainment across groups. Perna is the James S. Riepe Professor and founding Executive Director of the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy (AHEAD) at the University of Pennsylvania.

Perna is also chair of the Faculty Senate at the University of Pennsylvania, chair of the Higher Education Division of the Graduate School of Education, faculty fellow of the Institute for Urban Research, faculty affiliate of the Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative, member of the advisory board for the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, and member of the Social Welfare Graduate Group of the School of Social Policy and Practice. She holds bachelor’s degrees in economics and psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, and earned her master’s in public policy and Ph.D. in education from the University of Michigan.

The Annual Brodie Lecture is free and open to the public.