Joni E. Finney

Practice Professor
Director, Institute for Research on Higher Education

Higher Education Division

Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania

Phone: 215-573-4960

Email: jonif@gse.upenn.edu

Professional Biography

Dr. Finney is Professor of Practice at the University of Pennsylvania and Director of the Institute for Research on Higher Education (IRHE). She teaches graduate courses in the public finance of higher education, public policy and higher education, and an advanced public policy seminar in higher education. 

She was vice-president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education from 1997-2007. She has also held senior policy positions at the California Higher Education Policy Center and the Education Commission of the States. For over twenty-five years, Dr. Finney has worked with state and national leaders on improving public policy for higher education.

Dr. Finney has testified before state and federal legislative bodies and is a frequent speaker and resource for media. She has also advised presidential and gubernatorial campaigns and not-for-profit policy organizations. Dr. Finney is a founding board member of the National Clearinghouse Research Center and Research for Action. She chairs the national selection committee for the Virginia B. Smith Innovative Leadership Award sponsored by the Higher Education Policy Institute and the Council for Adult and Experimental Learning. She also serves on the executive committee of Change: The Magazine for Higher Learning, and is on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Competency-Based Education.

Finney pioneered the development of the nation's first report card on higher education, Measuring Up. She currently researches state policy and its relationship to state performance; she also assists states in developing public policies to increase educational attainment and reduce gaps in performance. Most recently, working with colleagues across the nation, Finney co-authored Financing American Higher Education in The Era of Globalization (2012) published by Harvard Education Press. She has also written two other books: Public and Private Finance of Higher Education: Shaping Public Policy for the Future and Designing State Higher Education Systems for a New Century.

Current Research

Dr. Finney’s current research projects focus on the finance of higher education, particularly college affordability for students, families, and taxpayers. She recently directed a national research project at Penn related to how public policies influence higher education performance. Along with her colleague Laura Perna, Dr. Finney completed five in-depth case studies of Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Texas, and Washington. The results of this study can be found in The Attainment Agenda: State Policy and Leadership in Higher Education by Johns Hopkins Press (2014). She recently added the state of California to this body of work.

Dr. Finney has also worked extensively in the area of public policies related to higher education finance, collaborating on Financing Higher Education in the Era of Globalization, which chronicles the development of higher education finance from WWII to the most recent recession (with William Zumeta, Davin Brenman, and Patrick Callan). She has written two other books, Public and Private Finance of Higher Education: Shaping Public Policy for the Future and Designing State Higher Education Systems for a New Century (with Richard Richardson, Kathy Bracco, and Patrick Callan.



Selected Publications

Callan, P., Doyle, W., Finney, J., & Harvey, D. (2014). Affordability of public higher education in SREB states. Atlanta, GA: The Southern Regional Education Board.

Finney, J., Perna, L., & Callan, P. (2014). Renewing the promise: State policies to improve higher education performance. Philadelphia, PA: Institute for Research on Higher Education.

Finney, J. (2014). Why the finance model for public higher education is broken and must be fixed. Philadelphia, PA: Wharton Public Policy Initiative.

Perna, L., & Finney, J. (2014). The attainment agenda: State policy and leadership in higher education. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press.

Finney, J. (2014). From master plan to mediocrity: Higher education performance & policy in California. Philadelphia, PA: Institute for Research on Higher Education.

Finney, J. (2013). RoadMap for the development of education in Kazakhstan. Philadelphia, PA: Higher Education Project Team, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. 

Finney, J. (2012). Éire higher education: What America can learn from Ireland. The Irish and U.S. Higher Education Roundtable.

Zumeta, W., Breneman, D., Callan, P., & Finney, J. (2012). Financing higher education in the era of globalization. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

Finney, J. (2010, July/August). Fostering student success: An interview with Julie Phelps. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning.

Finney, J. (2009, March). The challenge to states: Preserving college access and affordability in a time of crisis. San Jose, CA: The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

Finney, J. (2009, April). Rendell’s tuition relief act is much-needed program for Pennsylvania. The Patriot News.

Finney, J. (2009, May/June). Identifying talent and nurturing its success: An interview with Freeman Hrabowski. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning.

Finney, J. (2008, December). Measuring up 2008: State-by-state report cards. San Jose, CA: The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

Callan, P., Ewell, P., Finney, J., & Jones, D. (2007, June). Good policy, good practice—Improving outcomes and reducing costs in higher education. San Jose, CA: The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

Callan, M., Finney, J., Kirst, M., Usdan, M., & Venezia, A. (2006, March). Claiming common ground: State policymaking for improving college readiness and success. San Jose, CA: The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

Venezia, A., Callan, P., Finney, J., Kirst, M., & Usdan, M. (2005, September). The governance divide: A report on a four-state study on improving college readiness and success. San Jose, CA: The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

Finney, J., & Callan, P. (2005). State-by-state report cards: Public purposes and accountability for a new century. In J. C. Burke (Eds.), Achieving accountability in higher education: Balancing public, academic, and market demands (pp. 198–214). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2005.

Atwell, R., Callan, P., Finney, J., Jones, D., McGuinness, Jr., A., Mortimer, K., & Wellman, J. (2005, July). State capacity for higher education policy national crosstalk. San Jose, CA: The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

Finney, J., & Kelly, P. (2004, July/August). Affordability: Obtaining and making sense of information about how students, families, and states pay for higher education. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning.

Callan, P., & Finney, J. (2003, June). Multiple pathways and state policy: Toward education and training beyond high school. Jobs for the Future.

Callan, P., & Finney, J. (2002, July/August). Assessing educational capital: An imperative for policy. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning.

Callan, M., Doyle, W., & Finney, J. (2001, March/April). Evaluating state higher education performance: Measuring up 2000. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning.  

Finney, J. (2000, May). Enough of trickle-down: It’s time for a flood of aid for needy students. The Chronicle of Higher Education.