Sondra Barringer

Assistant Professor

Sondra Barringer, Assistant Professor

Education Policy and Leadership


Ph.D. University of Arizona


3101 University Blvd Ste. 345
Box 750114
Dallas, TX 75275


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Dr. Sondra N. Barringer, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education Policy and Leadership at the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development where she teaches courses in statistics and academic governance. She was awarded her Ph.D. and Master of Arts degrees in Sociology from the University of Arizona where her research was funded by the Association for Institutional Research and a University of Arizona Excellence Graduate Fellowship in the Social Sciences. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in sociology and economics at Baylor University. Prior to joining the faculty at SMU she was a Postdoctoral Research and Teaching Associate at the University of Georgia’s Institute of Higher Education where she was the Project Manager for a three-year NSF funded project (Co-PIs: Dr. Sheila Slaughter and Dr. Barrett J. Taylor).

Dr. Barringer’s research is focused on understanding how ties to external organizations and stakeholders (e.g., affiliated nonprofit organizations, governments, faculty, and trustees) affect the behaviors and output of higher education organizations (HEOs) with an emphasis on how these ties, and their effects, change over time. For example, her research suggests that public HEOs have created a barrier between themselves and their environments which allows them to continue to engage in the same broad set of activities despite environmental changes that substantially alter their revenues.

Dr. Barringer is also continuing to work with Dr. Slaughter and Dr. Taylor to understand how elite research universities are tied to the larger economy via their trustees, how this has changed from 1975 to 2015, and the consequences of these ties for universities. This mixed methods research shows that trustees serve as boundary spanners connecting universities to external organizations and the larger economy and that these ties have substantial consequences for these institutions in a number of areas including their identity, institutional stratification, and institutional conflict of interest.   

Dr. Barringer is also working on a separate three year NSF funded project with her Co-PI Dr. Erin Leahey to understand university commitments to interdisciplinary research (IDR) and their consequences for research universities. Specifically, they are developing a multi-dimensional measure of universities’ commitment to IDR and assessing how external influences and internal pressures are related to differences in how universities nationwide vary in their commitment to IDR. They also will assess the consequences of universities’ IDR commitment levels for their prestige, productivity, and financial well-being.

Selected Presentations

Barringer, S. N., Taylor, B. J., and Slaughter, S. (2016, upcoming). Trustees as Boundary Spanners: Implications for University Connectivity and the Field of Higher Education. Paper to be presented at the Association for the Study of Higher Education Conference, Columbus, OH.

Riffe, K. A. and Barringer, S. N. (2016). University Identity: The Direct and Indirect Roles of Trustees. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C.

Barringer, S. N. (2015). The Changing Black Box: Examining Variation in Patterns of Cross-Subsidization in Colleges and Universities from 1986-2010. Paper presented at the Association for Research on Nonprofit and Voluntary Associations Conference, Chicago, IL.

Barringer, S. N. and Taylor, B. J. (2015). Do Foundations Matter?: The Role of Affiliated Nonprofit Organizations in University Outputs. Paper presented at the Association for the Study of Higher Education Conference, Denver, CO.

Riffe, K. A. and Barringer, S. N. (2015). Understanding Within Institution Inequality: Explaining Inequality in Non-Instructional Staff Positions across Colleges and Universities. Paper presented at the Association for the Study of Higher Education Conference, Denver, CO.

Barringer, S. N. (2014). Competition, Markets, and Sectors: Understanding the Diverse Effects of Competition on University Finances. Paper presented at the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA.

Selected Publications

Barringer, S. N. (2016). The changing finances of public higher education organizations: Diversity, change and discontinuity. Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 46, 223-263.
Barringer, S. N., & Slaughter, S. (2016). University trustees and the entrepreneurial university: Inner circles, interlocks, and exchanges. In S. Slaughter & B. J. Taylor (Eds.), Higher Education, Stratification, and Workforce Development: Competitive Advantage in Europe, the US, and Canada (pp. 151-171): Springer.

Slaughter, S., Thomas, S. L., Johnson, D., & Barringer, S. N. (2014). Institutional conflict of interest: The role of interlocking directorates in the scientific relationships between universities and the corporate sector. The Journal of Higher Education, 85(1), 1-35.

Barringer, S. N., Eliason, S. R., & Leahey, E. (2013). A history of causal analysis in the social sciences. In S. L. Morgan (Ed.), Handbook of Causal Analysis for Social Research (pp. 9-26). New York: Springer.

Galaskiewicz, J., & Barringer, S. N. (2012). Social enterprises and social categories. In B. Gidron & Y. Hasenfeld (Eds.), Social Enterprises: An Organizational Perspective (pp. 47-70). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.