Michael K. McLendon

Dean of the School of Education, Baylor University

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Dr. Michael K. McLendon joined Baylor University as Dean of the School of Education and as Professor of Higher Education Policy and Leadership on July 1, 2015. McLendon came to Baylor from Southern Methodist University where he held the inaugural Harold and Annette Simmons Centennial Chair in Higher Education Policy and served as a professor and the associate dean for academic affairs at the Simmons School of Education and Human Development. Previously, he held appointment as the executive associate dean and chief of staff at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development, on whose faculty he served for thirteen years as a professor of public policy and higher education.

A specialist in the study of American higher education, McLendon has published extensively on topics relating to postsecondary education governance, finance, and public policy. His research has appeared in numerous books and in such journals as Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, The Journal of Higher Education, Research in Higher Education, Review of Higher Education, Teachers College Record, The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and Educational Policy. He has served on the editorial boards of numerous journals, and is a former elected member of the Board of Directors of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE). In recent studies, he and his research team have examined the sources of variation in college costs and prices, the role of public policy in promoting college access and success, the factors influencing the rise of new accountability and financing policies in K-12 and higher education, and the involvement of Latino legislators in shaping state policies for education.

McLendon has repeatedly been named as one of the nation’s leading university-based academics whose research contributes most substantially to public debates around education in the United States. He consults widely with governors, state legislatures, and national and local policy organizations on topics including college costs, state funding, postsecondary education governance, and performance and productivity in higher education. His work has been reported in such media as The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, U.S. News & World Report, Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, Austin American Statesman, and The Texas Tribune

McLendon is deeply committed to teaching and mentoring students. While serving in a variety of leadership roles, he has continued to teach graduate and undergraduate courses in the areas of college and university governance, leadership, education politics, postsecondary finance, and public policy. He is the recipient of a variety of awards in recognition of outstanding teaching and mentoring.

A native South Texan, McLendon earned his PhD in higher education policy from the University of Michigan, an MS in higher education from Florida State University, and a BA in political science from Baylor University. In 2007, he received Baylor’s Outstanding Young Alumnus Award. Before his academic career, he served as an aide to a member of the United States Senate and as a policy analyst on the Higher Education Committee of the Florida House of Representatives. McLendon currently holds appointment as a Senior Fellow at the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Affairs at Southern Methodist University and as a Faculty Fellow at the University of Georgia’s Institute of Higher Education.

He has been involved in a variety of civic and charitable organizations in each of the locations where he and his family have lived, including Florida, Michigan, Tennessee, and Texas. He and his wife, Kathy Coleman McLendon, BBA ’90, are parents to three energetic children, who attend area public schools.


  • Ph.D. Higher Education Policy, University of Michigan
  • M.S. Higher Education, Florida State University
  • B.A. Political Science, Baylor University

Publications, Speeches and Presentations

  • 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 from 1990 to 2012. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.
  • Perna, L.W., M.K. McLendon, & M. Klein. (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., & Hearn, J.C. (2013). The resurgent interest in performance-based funding for higher education.  Academe.
  • Hearn, J.C., McLendon, M.K., & Lacy, A. (2013).  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., C. Mokher, & S.M. Flores. (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., R. Deaton, & J.C. Hearn. (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., J.C. Hearn, J.C., & R. Deaton.  (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.