Project SEAPHE is a community of scholars committed to the empirical study of admissions preferences in higher education. We seek to ground the public's understanding of affirmative action in rigorous, data-driven studies. Members of the project cover a range of disciplines, from economics and statistics to sociology and law.
We seek to gather probative data on the operation and effects of admissions policies, both to conduct our own studies and to create easily-used databases available to the public.
Project SEAPHE's most pressing question concerns the ways preferences affect their intended beneficiaries. Do large disparities between the credentials of students admitted with preferences and the rest of their classmates affect the academic performance, graduation, and careers of those students? If so, do these outweigh the positive effects of being at a higher-tiered school?
We do, however, broadly support the policy of transparency. We believe institutions of higher education should be honest about their preference policies and should inform prospective students about the possible effects of an admission preference.
We are excited about the influence that our research can have on future education policy. Many of us have been supporters of traditional affirmative action programs, and are interested in reforms that can enhance diversity (broadly defined) while minimizing harm to intended beneficiaries.
In 1989, Sander joined the faculty of the UCLA School of Law, where he became a full professor five years later. During this period, he continued his work on housing segregation, but also pursued two new interests: the reasons behind the American legal profession’s explosive growth since the mid-1960s, and the structure and effects of law school admissions policies. In 1990, he designed a new admissions policy (adopted by UCLA’s law school) that sought to calibrate objectively the differences in college quality and grading that most graduate programs take into account in evaluating the college transcripts of applicants. In 1995, he published (with colleague Kristine Knaplund) a comparative evaluation of seven academic support programs used by the law school to help academically struggling students; the study sought to determine why some programs produced real academic benefits, while others had no measurable effect. After California voters approved Propostion 209 in 1996 – banning the use of race in various government programs, including admissions at the University of California – Sander successfully argued for the adoption of class-based preferences in the law school’s admissions, and published a study on the results of this experiment in 1997.
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Dr. Bolus received his Ph.D. from UCLA in 1981 with a specialization in research methods, measurement and evaluation. His extensive list of research accomplishments include work with the RAND Corporation, the UCLA Medical School, and Cedars Sinai Hospital. For Project SEAPHE, Dr. Bolus has collaborated on studies assessing learning in undergraduate education. He has no involvement with the California Bar project.
Riley DaCosta earned her Bachelor or Arts Degree in Sociology at the University of California at Berkeley. She subsequently obtained her Juris Doctorate in Law and and M.F.A. in Writing. For the past several years Riley has worked as a researcher and consultant on testing and testing practices and formulations for the California Bar and the LSAT. She also works as a private tutor for law school students and bar applicants.
Riley has a creative side and enjoys sculpture, painting and fiction writing. She speaks Spanish, some French and is currently mastering Arabic.
Wayne Grove is an associate professor of economics at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY and a research associate in economics department at Syracuse University. In addition to his work in American economic history and a new project about voter responsibility attribution of policy outcomes, Grove's primary research involves the search for talent and empirical analysis of student learning. He and Andrew Hussey have examined the returns to MBA areas of concentration (working paper) and are initiating a study of the multiple dimensions of MBA quality. Last year he published (in Economic Inquiry, along with Dutkowsky and Grodner) a study of the determinants of doctoral student success in each of three phases of the Ph.D.: passing the theory comprehensive exams, passing the field exams, and then completing the dissertation. Using the information contained in the 344 applications in 1989 to a top 5 economics Ph.D. program, he and Wu predict doctorate completion somewhere and research productivity 15 years later (American Economic Review, May 2007) and he, Wu and Grodner predict attending some economics Ph.D. program, doctoral completion, and job placement quality (working paper).
His student learning projects include (a) a classroom natural experiment of graded vs. ungraded assignments (American Economic Review, May 2006 with Wasserman), (b) a random assignment experiment to test the efficacy of web-based feedback of student effort (in progress), and (c) an investigation of what proxies best predict student ability to learn economics (Journal of Economic Education, 2006, with Wasserman and Grodner; working paper, with Grodner).
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Joe R. Hicks is the Vice President of Community Advocates, Inc., and is also the host of a weekly KFI AM 640 Talk Radio program - "The Joe Hicks Show." Prior to co-founding Community Advocates, Hicks was a member of the Board of Governors for the California State Bar, stepping down in 2002. He was the Executive Director of the Los Angeles City Human Relations Commission, where he served from 1997 to 2001 under Mayor Richard Riordan. In the early 1990s, Hicks was Executive Director of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the civil rights group formed by Martin Luther King, Jr. For more than 30 years, Hicks has been an active, high-profile figure on countless local, national, and international issues. His comments and opinion articles have appeared often in local, national and international print media, and he has been a guest on numerous local and national television news programs.
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Andrew Hussey received his doctorate in economics from Duke University in 2006, where he specialized in labor economics, economics of education, and health economics. He is currently an assistant professor of economics in the Fogelman College of Business & Economics at the University of Memphis. His dissertation involved an analysis of graduate management education. Specifically, he has investigated the effects of obtaining an MBA on graduate earnings, promotions, managerial skills, and other career outcomes. He is currently involved in further exploring the heterogeneity of these effects, via isolating signaling versus human capital components of the degree, determinants and effects of program quality (with Grove), and the effects of sorting behavior into MBA areas of concentration (also with Grove). In addition to MBA related research, Hussey's current research relates more broadly to the economic effects of education and the determinants of educational attainment, as well as the intersection between health and education. Hussey's teaching interests include Labor Economics, Microeconomics, Econometrics and Managerial Economics.
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Doug Williams is the Frank W. Wilson Associate Professor of Economics at the University of the South. Williams has a doctorate in economics from Northwestern University, where he specialized in labor economics and industrial organization. His teaching interests include Labor Economics, Law and Economics, Industrial Organization, Corporate Finance and Econometrics.
Williams has coauthored two studies examining the economic impact of living wage legislation: A 1997 study of the Los Angeles proposed living wage ordinance with and a 2000 study of the Santa Monica proposed local minimum wage. In addition, Williams has published studies on anti-poverty policy and the market for lawyers. From 1997 to 1999, Williams served as the economist for the City of Milwaukee where he advised city officials on regional economic, tax, pension, collective bargaining and other policy issues.
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Robert Zelnick graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations, and from the University of Virginia Law School. He spent 21 years as an executive and correspondent for ABC News, covering Moscow, Israel, the Pentagon and domestic politics before joining Boston University in 1998 as a Professor of Journalism. As Department Chairman, 2001-06, he led a still-ongoing effort to restore the department's accreditation, dormant since the early 1980s. Also a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, he is the author of two books on affirmative action, one on the Israeli-Palestiinian dispute and two on U.S. politics, including a biography of Al Gore.
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Staff and research associates
Jane studied mathematics as an undergrad at Yale, and went on to receive her JD from Yale Law School in 2006. While in law school, Jane studied Rick Sander’s 2005 “Systemic Analysis” as well as the critical responses that came out of Yale that same year. Jane’s academic interests revolve around gender equity and social justice. Her research focus within Project SEAPHE include the long-term and inter-generational effects of affirmative action. In her spare time, Jane makes art and music. She has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Roxy, the Knitting Factory, and hundreds of tiny punk venues across the U.S., Canada, and Europe. The rest of her time is spent walking, cooing at, and talking about her dog Arthur. Jane was a class action/consumer protection attorney prior to joining Project SEAPHE.
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Scott is a professional husband and guitarist who loves playing and listening to music and spending time with his wife and family. He was also recently drafted in the first round to join the world's most challenging extreme sport -- parenthood. As a hobby, Scott enjoys dabbling in economics, particularly empirical economics and econometrics, which is how he came to be involved with Project SEAPHE. He has Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Economics from UCLA, and has been working on Project SEAPHE since September of 2007. He is now currently involved as a consultant. Scott's other hobbies include litigation consulting - which he has pursued in both Beverly Hills and New York - jogging, watching and playing team sports, reading, and watching movies.
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Debra received her undergraduate degree in French Literature from Duke University in 1981 and her Law degree from Harvard in 1984. While at Harvard, she served as the Articles Editor for the Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Law Review and was also an active member of several pro bono legal services groups. Following graduation, Debra headed out to the west coast to make money to pay off her student loans. She began her career working at major law firms in both San Francisco and Los Angeles. Always passionate about public interest work, Debra co-chaired the Homeless Assistance Project for the LA County Bar young lawyers program. After her two sons were born, Debra scaled back her formal legal practice, but continued her pro bono work, including advocacy for disabled children and for public schools, and work on local political campaigns.
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Matthew is a civil litigation attorney and the entire staff of Butterick Law Corporation. Matthew focuses on representing plaintiffs in consumer-rights class actions. He is currently co-counsel in two class actions recently filed against the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and Louis Vuitton for violations of California regulations pertaining to fine art. While a student at UCLA School of Law, Matthew studied with Prof. Richard Sander, researching the role of admission preferences at medical schools and the plausibility of risk-disclosure litigation against schools that use preferences. Matthew is also handy with the Internet and has helped put Project SEAPHE online.
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Leo earned his degrees in Philosophy and Visual Communications from Cal Poly Pomona and Northern Illinois University. For the past 10 years, Leo has been working with various non-profit and faith-based communities in low-income neighborhoods throughout LA. His innate ability to see and understand the human and cultural condition lead him to qualitative research, which has been his area of interest for the past 5 years. He has assisted in several research projects on the subjects of school readiness, fair housing, Health-Diabetes Prevention Initiative, Pre-Adolescence AIDS and Pregnancy Prevention, and most recently, Project SEAPHE's research on law school graduates who have failed the bar exam.
Leo has an artistic side that has given him the opportunity to practice as a freelance illustrator, working for major clients such as the Chicago Cubs Baseball Team and the Chicago Tribune Newspaper for the past 14 years. Leo also speaks Italian, French, and Spanish, and finds pleasure and wisdom in culture, art, political history.
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Jennifer Flashman is a Ph.D. student in the department of sociology at UCLA. Her research interests include education, social stratification, demography, and quantitative methods. She is currently working on her dissertation, which studies adolescents’ preferences and choices for friendship networks, and friendship network effects on adolescents’ academic outcomes.
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Will Harper is a recent graduate of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee where he majored in Economics and minored in Global Relations, Mathematics, Spanish and Religion. Will’s main academic interest is international development, though he has had some academic contact with issues of race and equality. His senior thesis, entitled “Spatial Mismatch and the Burden of Commute,” examined how housing segregation affects the commute and employment opportunities of minorities. Interestingly, he was in attendance at the Supreme Court hearing of Gratz v. Bollinger.
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Yana Kucheva is a doctoral student in UCLA's department of Sociology. Her research focus is housing segregation.
Bongoh Kye is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at UCLA. He received his master's degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2005. His dissertation examines fertility decline in Korea and its implications for educational distribution. In particular, he is interested in how socioeconomic resources are transmitted between generations by focusing on socioeconomic differentials in demographic behaviors.
Sarah Lowe graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Florida in May 2006, majoring in Political Science and Spanish with a minor in Criminology. She excelled not only as a student, but also as a member of the women's basketball team where she was a captain for three years. Following her graduation, Lowe received a Fulbright Scholarship to Costa Rica where she studied the emergence of a grassroots social movement against the ratification and implementation of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). She is in the process of co-authoring an article that culminates her research entitled "Understanding Costa Rica's Anti-CAFTA movement." Aside from international development, Sarah's interests lie in exploring athletics as a tool for cross-cultural understanding, and diversity training for youth.
Greg Midgette is a first year student in the Master of Public Policy program at UCLA. He graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2004. Prior to arriving at UCLA, Greg worked in Economic Analysis and Forecasting for the New York City Mayor’s Office of Management & Budget. Greg’s research interests are equity issues intrinsic to Urban Development, especially education and housing. Greg spends his free time commuting to campus.
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Drew Patterson is a third year law student at UCLA School of Law. He has been involved in the FOIA project and the science majors studies.
Trity has an interdisciplinary background that includes undergraduate degrees in Physics and Physiology and graduate degrees in Social Welfare and Public Administration. She has close to ten years experience working on national and international projects as a researcher, evaluator, and manager. She has joined Project SEAPHE to explore her academic interests in gender and diversity issues. She also hopes to use her expertise in fund development to strengthen the project.
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Bob received his Ph.D. in psychology in 1990. His research interests led him to his affiliations with institutions like the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, the Fair Housing Institution, the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, and the RAND Corporation. Bob has been affiliated with the UCLA School of Law since 1999 where he has worked closely with Professor Sander on a number of research projects.
Email Bob Sockloskie
Allison is a second year law student at UCLA. She has been involved in the FOIA Project and the design of the Prop 209 study.
FundingProject SEAPHE is funded by a generous grant from the Searle Freedom Trust, based in Washington DC. The project originated when Searle officials invited Sander in March 2007 to design a program that would extend and develop his work on the effects of law school preferences. Sander proposed the creation of a broad research collaboration among social scientists interested in objective and quantitative analysis of the effects of preferences in higher education, fueled by the securing of relevant databases held by agencies and educational institutions. Searle funded the proposal at its full amount and without amendment. The Searle Freedom Trust funds a good deal of research on issues related to black-white inequality. For example, the Chicago Black-White Inequality Workshop is an effort to study why relative progress for blacks in terms of education, health, and income has stalled during the past two decades. The lead scholars include economists Derek Neal, Steve Levitt, James Heckman, and Roland Fryer.
Project SEAPHE also greatly benefits from ongoing non-financial assistance and support from the UCLA School of Law. The Randolph Foundation has provided support for the Project's efforts to obtain and analyze data from the University of California.
Sander's earlier research on the operation and effects of preferences in law school was aided by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Law School Admissions Council, the National Association of Law Placement, the American Bar Foundation, the National Conference of Bar Examiners, and the UCLA Law School Dean's Fund.
The findings and opinions expressed by Project SEAPHE do not reflect those of any funding organization. Likewise, conclusions reported by Project SEAPHE collaborators represent the views of those authors, and do not necessarily reflect positions taken by Project SEAPHE as a whole.