College of Education > News and Publications > 2015 January–March news > College of Education faculty member wins William A. Kaplin Award

College of Education faculty member wins William A. Kaplin Award

Associate professor of higher education Neal Hutchens honored for publishing works on law and policy.
College of Education faculty member wins William A. Kaplin Award

Neal H. Hutchens

Neal H. Hutchens, associate professor of higher education and senior research associate for The Center for the Study of Higher Education, has earned the William A. Kaplin Award for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy Scholarship.

Hutchens was honored on Feb. 14 in Orlando. The Kaplin Award recognizes scholars who have published works on education law that embrace the intersection of law and policy.

“I was extremely honored to receive the award, especially as it’s recognition for my efforts to seek to bridge issues related to higher education law and policy in much of the scholarship that I do,’’ Hutchens said. “For me, along with being a nice ‘pat on the back,’ the award provides motivation to keep moving forward with lines of scholarship on crucial law and policy issues affecting higher education, such as in the area of academic freedom.’’

Hutchens’ research also includes challenges confronting non-tenure track faculty as well as issues related to institutional autonomy in the area of state constitutional provisions meant to safeguard public colleges and universities in select states from undue external interference.

“I am thrilled that Neal is being recognized for his important contributions to our understanding of higher education law and policy,’’ said John Cheslock, director of The Center for the Study of Higher Education in Penn State’s College of Education. “Neal is a scholar who seriously engages both the world of ideas and the world of higher education practice.

“He is also someone who contributes to the scholarly community by initiating and organizing conversations, so his contributions are far-reaching,’’ Cheslock said.

Hutchens said receiving notification that he was the award’s recipient prompted surprise as well as multiple complimentary responses.

“I have been fortunate to hear kind words from many colleagues about the award, which has meant a lot to me on a very personal level,’’ Hutchens said.

“Receiving the award also reinforced to me how fortunate I have been in having outstanding professors and mentors along my academic journey. I’ve also been tremendously fortunate to have such wonderful and supportive colleagues and students here at Penn State.’’