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Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award Recipient: Matthew Crellin, HE'10

Matt CrellinMatthew Crellin came to the Ed School eager, he says, "to explore the issues that face college students, faculty, and institutions by blending practical knowledge with theory and research." Through perspective gained in courses and discussions in HGSE's Higher Education Program (HE), and his internship at Harvard Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership, the Maine native is ready to start making his impact on the world.

"Matt made the most of his year at Harvard, engaging actively with course material and with the Higher Education cohort, participating in the Student Research Conference and the PELP case competition, and taking on internships to enhance his learning," says Professor Judy McLaughlin, director of HE. "His impressive work ethic, coupled with his wide-ranging curiosity, warm sense of humor, and generosity toward others, made him an extraordinary contributor to the HGSE community. The Higher Ed Program was richer this year because of Matt's presence."

Crellin is thrilled to have accepted the position of director of policy and research for the New England Board of Higher Education in Boston, and looks forward to applying all he learned at the Ed School to his new role. Upon learning that he had been honored with the Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award for HE, Crellin answered some questions about his time at the Ed School and beyond.

What was your favorite class this year?
What a tough question! It's very difficult to answer this as I enjoyed them all so much. One class that did push me to the frontier of my knowledge was The Economics of Colleges and Universities with [Professor] Bridget Terry Long. I remember writing my first paper for her class on the strategic use of institutional financial aid and thinking this was going to be the moment where I would have to tell my friends and family my career at HGSE was coming to an end - how on earth could I tackle something like this? The paradox here was that it ended up being one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had from an assignment and it helped me realize just how much I could learn if I really applied myself to an issue. I remember being very grateful for the opportunity to explore this topic with rich depth. That class was instrumental in changing the way that I think about certain dimensions of higher education.

What is something that you learned at HGSE that you will take with you throughout your career in education?
It certainly "takes a village" to address to all of the goals and outcomes in education. In higher education especially, I've learned to think about academe as a "loosely coupled system" - something that I hadn't conceptualized before but now makes a great deal of sense. I've learned from my fellow students that there are some extraordinary people who are dedicated to making a meaningful impact; people who are going beyond the questions of equipping students with basic core knowledge and getting to the heart of what makes for a satisfying life, a rewarding contribution to society, and what kind of education will be necessary to improve the world. These are rich questions, and HGSE has helped me frame them in ways I never thought possible.

What will you change in education and why?
There are multiple issues that face higher education, from college access, degree attainment, and student success to the future of shared governance and leadership along with economic and global realities will require higher education to face serious adaptive challenges both now and in the future. Such challenges will require students to engage in the civic and developmental lives of their communities, faculty to continue to expand the domains of intellectual knowledge, and administrative vision and planning in partnership with faculty to lead the university into tomorrow. I can't possibly hope to change any or all of these issues on my own; it will require authentic partnership and creativity to mobilize higher education to confront and address these challenges in order to improve the human condition. But, together with a sense of purpose and partners, I think that it's possible to work to change all of these issues and more for the better.

What advice do you have for next year's students going through your program?
Don't be afraid to push yourself and make the most of this time. HGSE and the Higher Education Program will be one of the best years of your life and you have access to an unparalleled education. Take risks, enroll in at least one course that is outside of your comfort zone, find a great internship that allows you to explore your professional interests, make space for some great social experiences, and be bold with your year at HGSE - as the saying goes, "boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!"

What's your favorite thing on the menu at Conroy Commons?
The always dependable coffee, of course! A graduate student's best ally, Conroy's coffee is unfailingly ready and waiting.


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