Office of the Dean

Associate Dean Michael McLendon

Michael McLendon

Endowed Centennial Chair & Associate Dean



Ph.D., University of Michigan
3101 University Blvd, Ste.247,
Dallas, 75205
Box 382
214-768-4632
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Dr. Michael K. McLendon serves as the academic dean and as a professor at the Simmons School of Education and Human Development of Southern Methodist University.  He holds the inaugural Harold and Annette Simmons Centennial Endowed Chair in Higher Education Policy and Leadership.  He also holds appointment as a Fellow with SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies. 

In the Simmons Dean’s office, Dr. McLendon oversees academic affairs and faculty development and works closely with the Dean on strategic initiatives, such as program quality and enrollment planning.  He is a specialist in the study of higher education.  His research and teaching focus on governance, finance, and public policy for postsecondary education.   In 2013 and 2014, he was named one of the nation's leading university-based academics whose research contributes most substantially to public debates concerning K-12 and higher education in the United States.

A primary strand of Dr. McLendon's scholarship is directed toward understanding those factors influencing policy change at both the state and campus levels, with particular attention paid to the role of democratic institutions and educational governance arrangements that shape states' policy choices.  His more recent studies have examined factors that influence the rise of new accountability and financing policies in higher education, the sources of variation in state spending on higher education, and the impact of practices and policies that are designed to increase college and university performance.  In a related vein, Dr. McLendon has studied the effects of campus and state policies on college student success.

He has been published widely in leading field journals, including The Journal of Higher Education, Research in Higher Education, The Review of Higher Education, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Teachers College Record, The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, American Journal of Education, Educational Policy, and Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research.  

His scholarship has found support from foundations and public agencies, including the Lumina Foundation, the National Science Foundation and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.  He consults with state governors and state boards of education, and advises campuses and national organizations on matters relating to policy and leadership for higher education.

Dr. McLendon has served or now serves on the editorial boards of Research in Higher Education, The Review of Higher Education, Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, and the Politics of Education Yearbook.  He is a former, elected member of the Board of Directors of the Association for the Study of Higher Education.  He is active in other national and international professional association as well.

Dr. McLendon began his teaching career at Vanderbilt University, serving from 1999 through May 2012, before joining Southern Methodist University in the summer of 2012.  He has received numerous awards for outstanding teaching and mentoring as an instructor for graduate and undergraduate courses on university governance, leadership, post-secondary finance, public policy for higher education, and education politics.  He also has taught seminars and survey courses in the areas of American politics and public policy.

Additionally, he held the inaugural role of executive associate dean and chief of staff for Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development.  His portfolio included undergraduate education, the development of academic and research partnerships with local schools and school districts, and numerous strategic initiatives.  Previously, he directed Vanderbilt's doctoral and masters degree programs in higher-education studies, led undergraduate and graduate programs in education policy, and chaired the academic policies and affairs committees of the University Senate, among other roles.

He earned his PhD in higher-education studies from the University of Michigan, a M.S. in higher education from Florida State University, and a B.A. in political science from Baylor University.  Prior to undertaking his doctoral studies, he served as a policy analyst in the Florida House of Representatives and as a staff member in the United States Senate in Washington, D.C.  In 2007, Baylor University honored him as a distinguished young alumnus.



Selected Publications:

McLendon, M.K., D. Tandberg, & N. Hillman. (In Press). Financing college opportunity: 
An analysis of factors influencing state spending on student financial aid and campus 
Appropriations, 1990 to 2012. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

McLendon, M.K., & L.W. Perna. (In Press). State policies and higher education attainment. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

Perna, L.W., M. Klein, & M.K. McLendon. (In Press). State Policies and higher education attainment: Insights and implications for state policymakers. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

McLendon, M.K., & J.C. Hearn. (In Press). State policy innovation and reform in higher education: A theoretical and empirical assessment of an emerging framework. Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research

McLendon, M.K., Cohen-Vogel, L., & Wachen, J. (Forthcoming). Understanding education policymaking and policy change in the American states: Learning from contemporary policy theory. In Cooper, B. S., Cibulka, J.G., & Fusarelli, L.D. (Eds.). Handbook of Education Politics and Policy (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.

McLendon, M.K., & Hearn, J.C. (Forthcoming). The resurgent interest in performance-based funding for higher education.  Academe.    

Hearn, J.C., McLendon, M.K., & Lacy, A. (Forthcoming).  State-funded “Eminent Scholars” programs: University faculty recruitment as an emerging policy instrument. The Journal of Higher Education, 84(5), 601-639. 

McLendon, M.K., Mokher, C., & Flores, S.M. (2011). Legislative agenda-setting for in-state resident tuition policies: Immigration, representation, and educational access. American Journal of Education, 117(4), 563-602. 

Hearn, J.C. & McLendon, M.K. (2011). Governance: Toward new models and methods for understanding postsecondary governance. In M. Bastedo’s (ed.) Governing the University. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 

McLendon, M.K., & Hearn, J.C. (2010). Openness laws, institutional governance, and democracy. Politics and access to state information about higher education. Teacher’s College Record, 112(10), 2649-2663.

Doyle, W., McLendon, M.K., & Hearn, J.C. (2010). Why states adopted prepaid tuition and college savings programs: An event history analysis. Research in Higher Education, 51(7). 

McLendon, M.K., Mokher, C.G., & Doyle, W. (2009). Privileging public research universities: The political economy of state appropriations to higher education. Journal of Education Finance, 34(4), 372-401. 

McLendon, M.K., Hearn, J.C., & Mokher, C. (2009). Partisans, professionals, and power: The role of political factors in state higher education funding. The Journal of Higher Education, 80(6), 686-713.

McLendon, M.K., Heller, D.E., & Lee, S. (2009). High school to college transition policies in the states: Conceptual and analytic perspectives on conducting across-state study. Educational Policy, 23(2), 385-418.

McLendon, M.K., & Mokher, C. (2009). The origins and spread of state policies privatizing public higher education. In C. Morphew and P. Eckel (Ed.). Privatization of the public research university. (pp. 24-62). Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 

McLendon, M.K., & Hearn, J.C. (2009). Viewing recent U.S. governance reform whole: “Decentralization” in a distinctive context. In J. Huisman (Ed.). International perspectives on the governance of higher education. (pp. 161-181). New York: Routledge. 

McLendon, M.K., & Cohen-Vogel, L. (2008). Understanding education policy change in the American states: Lessons from contemporary political science. Understanding the Politics of Education: AERA Handbook of Theory and Research. (pp. 66-112). Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association & Lawrence Erlbaum.

Hearn, J.C., McLendon, M.K., & Mokher, C. (2008). Accounting for student success: An empirical analysis of the origins and spread of state student unit-record systems. Research in Higher Education, 50(1), 665-683. 

Mokher, C., & McLendon, M.K. (2008). Uniting secondary and postsecondary education: An event history analysis of state adoption of dual enrollment policies. American Journal of Education, 115(2), 249-277.

McLendon, M.K., Deaton, R., & Hearn, J.C. (2007). The enactment of state-level governance reforms for higher education: A test of the political-instability hypothesis. The Journal of Higher Education, 78(6), 645-675. 

McLendon, M.K., Hearn, J.C., & Deaton, R. (2006). Called to account: Analyzing the origins and spread of state performance-accountability policies for higher education. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 28(1), 1-24.

McLendon, M.K., & Hearn, J.C. (2006). Mandated openness in higher education: A field study of sunshine laws and institutional governance. The Journal of Higher Education, 77(4), 645-683.

McLendon, M.K., & Hearn, J.C. (2006). Mandated openness and higher education governance: Policy, theoretical, and analytic perspectives. Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, Vol. XXI (pp. 39-97). New York: Springer.

McLendon, M.K., Heller, D.E., & Young, S. (2005). State postsecondary education policy innovation: Politics, competition, and the interstate migration of policy ideas. The Journal of Higher Education, 76(4), 363-400.

McLendon, M. K. (2003). Setting the governmental agenda for state decentralization of higher education. The Journal of Higher Education, 74(5), 1-37.

McLendon, M.K. (2003). The politics of higher education: Toward an expanded research agenda. Educational Policy, 17(1), 165-191.

McLendon, M. K. (2003). State governance reform of higher education: Patterns, trends, and theories of the public policy process. Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, Vol. XVIII (pp. 57-144). London: Kluwer.