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Kelchen Once Again Named Top Scholar Influencer

We’ve all heard the term “influencer.” Many of us associate an influencer as someone with a large following on social media, such as Instagram or YouTube, who set trends or promotes products. But did you know that there are a select group of scholar influencers who help shape educational practice and policy?

Robert Kelchen stands in front of the

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 (CEEHHS).  Kelchen is ranked 41 out of 20,000 scholars nationwide in Education Week’s Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings for 2024. In fact, Kelchen is the only scholar from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, to make the list.

“As a faculty member at a land-grant university, it is my job to help share knowledge well beyond the classroom or traditional academic journals,” said Kelchen. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with policymakers, journalists, and college leaders on a regular basis to help improve higher education.”

For 14 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 38-member Selection Committee made up of university scholars representing public and private institutions from across the United States. The Selection Committee calculates scores including, Google Scholar Scores, Book Points, Amazon Rankings, Congressional Record mentions, media, and web appearances and then ranks the scholar accordingly.  Kelchen is considered a “go-to” source for reporters covering issues in higher education, with over 200 media interviews, year after year. If there is a story about higher education in the media, you’ll more than likely find a quote from Kelchen as an expert source.

“In the last year, I have had the pleasure of supporting several states on their higher education funding models, presenting to groups of legislators, and being a resource to reporters diving into complex higher education finance topics. These engagements help strengthen my own research and give me the opportunity to teach cutting-edge classes to ELPS students,” said Kelchen.

In addition, Kelchen received national recognition by the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) for his research on higher education finance, accountability policies and practices, and student financial aid. ASHE’s Council on Public Policy in Higher Education selected Kelchen for its Excellence in Public Policy Higher Education Award.

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