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Awards & Service

Professor Laura Perna’s scholarship and teaching have received national awards and honors throughout her career. She has also been recognized for her mentorship and service to the field of higher education research.


Penn Alumni Faculty Award of Merit, University of Pennsylvania Alumni Association, 2022

This award recognizes faculty members who have made outstanding contributions to alumni education and engagement at Penn by sharing their unique scholarship work with the alumni community. Special emphasis is placed on a faculty member who goes above and beyond the call of duty by engaging alumni with the university as their intellectual home. 


“This award holds special meaning for me as a teacher and Penn alumna,” Professor Perna says. “It is such a privilege to work with students—teaching and advising them, collaborating with and learning from them. GSE’s master’s and doctoral candidates, as well as the undergrads who work on my research team, constantly push me to grow intellectually. I treasure the opportunity to stay connected with them as they move into their own careers.”


Member, National Academy of Education

In 2019, Professor Perna was elected to join the National Academy of Education, an organization dedicated to advancing high-quality education research and its use in policy and practice. NAEd members are elected on the basis of outstanding scholarship related to education.


President, Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), 2014 to 2015

With about 2,200 members, ASHE advances research on higher education administration. As president and with financial support from the William T. Grant Foundation, Professor Perna worked to improve connections between higher education research and higher education policy and practice. Over the course of a year, ASHE members met with leaders of five intermediary organizations to consider the state of research-based knowledge on important current issues facing policymakers and practitioners, and how researchers can better work with policymakers and practitioners going forward. Findings were presented at the 2015 ASHE Conference in Denver, Colorado.


Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching, University of Pennsylvania, 2010

Penn awards eight Lindback Awards annually; award winners are determined by nominations and recommendations made by faculty and students.

Member, Board of Directors and Treasurer, Postsecondary Network Policy Institute (PNPI)

PNPI is dedicated to promoting professional development for current and prospective policymakers who work on higher education issues.


Member, THRIVE Advisory Board, Bowdoin College

THRIVE is a college-wide initiative, with a range of programming and mentorship, that helps low-income and first-generation college students thrive.

Member, AERA Grants Program, Governing Board (2018-2025)

The AERA-NSF Grants program enhances the capability of the education research community to conduct policy- and practice-relevant research using nationally and internationally representative data sets supported by NCES, NSF, and other federal agencies.

Member, Gates Foundation’s Postsecondary Value Commission

The Postsecondary Value Commission brings together higher education experts and national leaders to examine, explore, and define the value of postsecondary education in the United States.


National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, Golden Quill Award 

The Golden Quill Award is presented each year at the NASFAA National Conference to an individual or individuals chosen for their contributions to the literature on student financial aid.


  • Association for Education Finance & Policy AEFP-CUE Applied Higher Education Award, 2023

  • GSE Centennial Presidential Professor of Education, University of Pennsylvania, 2019 to 2024

  • James S. Riepe Professor, University of Pennsylvania, July 2014 to June 2019

  • American Educational Research Association, Fellow (inducted 2014) 

  • Penn Fellow, 2014 to 2015

  • Education Week’s Top 200 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence List (each year 2015 to 2022)

  • Exemplary Research Award, American Education Research Association (AERA) Division J (Postsecondary Education), 2022

  • Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Public Policy, Spring 2021 (declined) 

  • Inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award, University of Michigan, School of Education, 2021 

  • Recognition of Service Award, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, 2020 

  • Excellence in Public Policy in Higher Education Award, Council on Public Policy in Higher Education, Association for the Study of Higher Education, 2017

  • AERA Grants Governing Board

  • Dr. Constance Clayton Education Award, Philadelphia College Prep Roundtable, 2017

  • Visiting Scholar, SciencesPo, Laboratorie Interdisciplinaire D’Evaluation des Politiques Publiques (LIEPP), Fall 2015 

  • Vice President, Postsecondary Education Division (Division J), American Educational Research Association, 2010 to 2013

  • Presidential Fellowship, Salzburg Global Seminar, “Optimizing Talent—Closing Education and Social Mobility Gaps Worldwide: Higher Education and Lifelong Learning,” October 2012

  • Outstanding Reviewer Award, AERA Publications Committee, Educational Researcher, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013; American Education Research Journal (Section on Social and Institutional Analysis), 2009; Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 2008

  • 2019 Scopus Award, Kazakhstan (for Bolashaq research, with Zakir Jumakulov and Kata Orosz)

  • Promising Scholar/Early Career Achievement Award, Association for the Study of Higher Education, 2003 

  • Faculty Mentor of the Year, Graduate Student Association, Department of Education Policy & Leadership, University of Maryland, College Park, 2003

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