Penn AHEAD advances critical conversations about the roles and purposes of higher education through its engagement with public policymakers, college and university administrators, and researchers. Through presentations, seminars, and other events at Penn and around the world, we seek to promote ongoing public dialogue about critical issues facing higher education, and identify and disseminate information about innovative and productive solutions to these issues.

Expert Advice for Policymakers

Testimony Before Congress

Dr. Laura Perna testified in front of the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training on April 30, 2015, on efforts to improve higher education access and completion for low-income and first-generation students. Dr. Perna's testimony specifically focused on the role of college access and success programsClick here to view the press release and click here to watch Dr. Perna's testimony. 

Last summer, Dr. Perna testified in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on states' role in higher education. Click here to view the video of her testimony.  

Featured Events

AHEAD @ Penn
Friday, February 12, 2016 - 12:00pm to 2:00pm
Huntsman Hall, Room 250

Join us for the second of a five-session seminar on the role of higher educational and other anchor institutions in promoting college and career readiness of high school students in Philadelphia. This session features: Carol de Fries, Vice President of Workforce & Economic Innovation, and Dave Thomas, Dean of the Division of Access and Community Engagement at the Community College of Philadelphia; Andrew Lamas, Professor of Urban Studies at the University of Pennsylvania; Theresa Simmonds, Coordinator of Post-Secondary Success Programs at The Netter Center; and Nyeema Watson, Assistant Chancellor for Civic Engagement at Rutgers University – Camden.

This session is facilitated by Laura Perna, Professor at Penn GSE and Executive Director of Penn AHEAD.


Additional sessions will take place the following Fridays from 12:00pm - 2:00pm: March 18, April 15 and May 6. Lunch is provided. To RSVP please email Janee Franklin at

AHEAD on the Road
Thursday, November 5, 2015
2015 ASHE (Association for the Study of Higher Education) Conference in Denver, CO

PennAHEAD Executive Director and President of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) delivered her presidential address at the 2015 ASHE Conference. She offers a top-ten list for how ASHE research must capitalizing on their strategic advantages to ensure the value of their work to higher education policy and practice into the future.

Read more here.

AHEAD @ Penn
Thursday, October 22, 2015 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
St. Leonard's Court, Suite 120 (HED Conference Room)

PennAHEAD's visiting scholars from Nazarbayev University will be on hand to share their insights on culture and education in contemporary Kazakhstan. Bring your lunch and get ready for some international myth-busting!