Rita J. Kirshstein is a managing researcher in the Education Program at AIR and heads AIR’s higher education practice area. She has dedicated much of her professional career studying higher education and ways to ensure that all students seeking a college education can attend and obtain a degree. She has analyzed a wide range of issues, including programs designed to increase minority participation in higher education overall and in science, technology, engineering, and technology programs specifically; financial aid policies at the national and state levels; the causes and consequences of rising tuitions; institutional spending patterns; and faculty roles and responsibilities.
In January 2012, Dr. Kirshstein became the director of the Delta Cost Project, which focuses on college affordability through an understanding of the relationships among tuition, institutional spending and student subsidies. In addition, Dr. Kirshstein has led evaluations and provided evaluation support to a number of different education initiatives including an alternative to traditional writing remediation programs in community colleges; correctional education in male prisons; federal technology programs; federal reading programs; the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE); and several National Science Foundation (NSF) programs aimed at increasing doctoral degrees among underrepresented minorities. These projects, and others, have led to an understanding of the issues involved in translating federal and state initiatives into practices that improve the delivery of education and education outcomes.
Dr. Kirshstein’s knowledge of higher education and interest in working with students of all types has resulted in appointments to the board of directors of College Bound, a DC-based college access program, and to the board of trustees of the University of the District of Columbia. She is also an adjunct professor in the sociology department at George Washington University where she teaches graduate courses on the sociology of higher education.