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Kelchen Top Scholar Influencer

Education Week Releases List of Top Influencers in Policy and Issues in Education

We’re familiar with the term “influencer.” Many of us associate “influencer” with someone with a large following on social media, such as Instagram or Facebook, who sets trends or promotes products. But did you know that there is a select group of scholar influencers who help shape educational practice and policy?

Robet Kelchen new department head of educational leadership and policy studies

Robert Kelchen

One of those scholar influencers is Robert Kelchen, who serves as department head of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences (CEHHS).  Kelchen was recently ranked 24 out of 200 in Education Week’s Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings for 2023. In fact, Kelchen is the only scholar from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, to make the list.

“I do my research to give policymakers and leaders the information that they need to make better decisions about funding higher education,” Kelchen said. “If I don’t take the time to write pieces for a broader audience, talk with reporters, or respond to questions that get sent to me, I’m not doing my job.”

For 13 years, Education Week selects the top-200 scholars (out of an eligible pool of 20,000)  from across the United States as having the most influence on issues and policy in education. The list is compiled by opinion columnist Rick Hess, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and director of Education Policy Studies.

The selection process includes a 28-member Selection Committee comprised of university scholars representing public and private institutions from across the United States. The Selection Committee calculates scores ranging from Google Scholar Scores to media mentions and ranks the scholar. This year, Kelchen is the only scholar in the country to receive the maximum score in both newspaper and educational media mentions, with up to 200 media interviews per year.

“I appreciate Education Week supporting this annual ranking, as it highlights scholars who are trying to improve education in the United States,” Kelchen said. “And while I’m thrilled to be on the list, I hope that it guides graduate students and junior faculty into making sure their work is relevant to others outside of the walls of the university.”

Through its eight departments and 12 centers, the UT Knoxville College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences enhances the quality of life for all through research, outreach, and practice. Find out more at