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Stephen J. Handel, PhD

Director of Strategy, Postsecondary Education Transformation

Stephen J. Handel, PhD, oversees a portfolio of grants designed to solidify ECMC Foundation’s commitment to the systematic and widespread improvement of students' postsecondary education outcomes, especially students from underserved groups. Steve’s special focus is on college and university transformation as a key lever in substantially increasing student degree and credential completion and advancing their social and economic mobility. Prior to joining the Foundation, he served as the College Board’s Senior Strategist for Strategic Higher Education Assessment Use and Opportunity. In this capacity, he consulted with college and university enrollment leaders in the application of fair and effective higher education admission assessments and other resources that benefit students seeking success in postsecondary education, especially students from underserved groups. Steve also served as chief admission officer for the University of California (UC) system, providing leadership on freshman and community college transfer policy and practice for the nine UC undergraduate campuses. With over 23 years of service at the UC, Steve served in a variety of leadership roles in such areas as undergraduate admissions, enrollment management, outreach, and student services.

Steve is the co-author of books and monographs on higher education, including Beyond Free College: Making Higher Education Work for 21st Century Students with Eileen L. Strempel (Rowman & Littlefield, 2021) and the two-volume series, Transition and Transformation (also with Strempel, 2016, 2018), The Promise of the Transfer Pathway: Opportunity and Challenge for Community College Students Seeking the Baccalaureate Degree (with Ronald Williams, 2012) and the Community College Sourcebook: Strategies for Advising Transfer Students from Experienced Community College Counselors (2009). Steve's articles and essays have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, Times Higher Education (UK), Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, and About Campus. Some titles include Fairness and Fate in Elite College Admissions, Reigniting the Promise of the Transfer Pathway, College Admission: Now and Then Again, Under Match and the Community College StudentReimagining Remediation (with Ronald Williams), Strengthening the Nation by Narrowing the Gap (with James Montoya) and Second Chance, Not Second Class: A Blueprint for Community College Transfer.

Steve earned his PhD and MA degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles, a BA from California State University, Sacramento, and an AA from Cosumnes River Community College (Sacramento, CA).