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William Trent

Profile Picture for William Trent

Professor, Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership, Technology Innovation in Educational Research & Design


368 Education Building
1310 S. Sixth St.
Champaign, IL 61820

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William Trent


My professional career has included administration in higher education as an Associate Chancellor, Director of an Educational Opportunity Program and a TRIO project Director. I currently enjoy a professorship in Education and Sociology that has afforded me the opportunity to contribute to the diversification of scholars in both Education research and research in the Sociology of Education.

Key Professional Appointments

Professor, Department of Educational Policy Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1992 - present

Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1992 - present

Associate Chancellor, Responsible for campus diversity issues, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1994 - 1999

Assistant, Associate Professor, Department of Educational Policy Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1983 - 1992


Ph.D., Sociology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1982

M.S., Sociology, George Washington University, 1974

B.S., Sociology, Union College, Barbourville, KY, 1966

Awards, Honors, Associations

Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, 2012, Union College, Barbourville, KY, 2012 - 2012

Spencer Resident Fellow 2006 – 2007, The Spencer Foundation, 2007 - 2007

Spencer Resident Fellow, The Spencer Foundation, 2006 - 2007

Senior Specialist, Fulbright Senior Specialists are selected based on achievements and the fit with the needs of the participating agencies and universities., Fulbright Program, 2003 - 2004

Visiting Scholar, College Board, 2002 - 2003

Visiting Chair in Higher Education, Johnson and Wales University, 2000 - 2000

Athletic Hall of Fame, Union College, Barbourville, KY, 1994 - 1994

Outstanding Scholar, American Educational Research Association, 1999 - 1999

Research & Service

My past research has focused on: 1) Educational Inequality; school desegregation effects (K-12, post-secondary), benefits and consequences; social organization of schools, status attainment research, co-and extracurricular activities, comparative education; 2) Race and Ethnicity: social stratification and mobility, equality of opportunity; and 3) Complex Organization/Social Change/Education Policy.

I was PI for a study of the Summer Research Opportunity Program in the CIC and PI for an NSF funded STEM study focused on Broadening participation and understanding STEM interventions supporting successful completion.


Trent, W. (2008). Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: High School Racial Composition and Becoming a GMS Scholar; the Implications of Strategin Recruitment.  William T. Trent, Dawn Owens Nicholson and Mary E. M. M. AMS Press Inc New York.

Trent, W. (2008). RESOURCES, ASSETS AND STRENGTHS AMONG SUCCESSFUL DIVERSE STUDENTS; Understanding the Contributions of the Gates Millenniun Scholars Program. Readings in Equal Education ( vol. 23,). New York: AMS Press, Inc. Press.

Trent, W., & Orr, T. (2007). The transition to college: Lessons from the disciplines [Special issue]. The Teachers College Record, 109 (10).

Trent, W., Lee, H., & Nicholson, D. (2006). Perceptions of financial aid among students of color: Examining the role(s) of self concept, locus of control and expectations. American Behavioral Scientist, 49 (12), 1739-1759.

Trent, W., Orr, M., Ranis, S., & Holdaway, J. (2006). Transitions to college: Lessons from the disciplines. Teachers College Record, 109 (10), 2207-2221.

Trent, W., & Gong, Y. (2006). Achieving justice and equality in U. S. higher education: An exemplary program to increase the participation of underrepresented students of color. International perspectives on diversity in higher education: Challenges and prospects ( pp. 387-420). Oxford, UK: Elsevier.

Green, D., & Trent, W. (2005). The public good and a radically diverse democracy. Higher education and the public good ( pp. 102-124). San Francisco: Josey Bass.

Trent, W., Gong, Y., & Owens-Nicholson, D. (2004). The relative contribution of high school origins to college access. REE ( vol. 20,).

Beatty, A., Neissere, U., Trent, W., & Heubert, J. (2001). Understanding dropouts: Statistics, strategies, and high-stakes testing. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press.

Trent, W., & Braddock, J. (1992). Extracurricular activities in secondary schools. In M. C. Alkin (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Educational Research (6th ed.) pp. 476-481 New York: Macmillan.

Trent, W. (1991). Focus on equity: Race & gender differences in degree attainment 1975-76; 1980-81. College in black and white: African American students in predominantly white and historically black public universities ( pp. 41-59). Albany, NY: Southern University Press.

Trent, W. (1991). Student affirmative action in higher education: Addressing underrepresentation. The racial crisis in higher education ( pp. 107-132). Albany, NY: Southern University Press.

Trent, W., Braddock, J., & Henderson, R. (1985). Trends in Black enrollment and degree attainment. Desegregating America's colleges and universities: Title VI regulation of higher education New York: Teachers College Press.

Trent, W. School Desegregation: Examining the Evidence on Persisting Barriers to Quality Education.

Trent, W. The Limits and Posibilities of Mentoring.

Trent, W., & Trent, W. Comparing 'Swirling' in STEM and non-STEM fields. 2010.

Trent, W., & Trent, W. School Desegregation: The Long View.

Dixson, A., Ladson-Billings, G., Trent, W., Suarez, C., & Anderson, J. Condition or Process? Researching Race in Education. Washington, DC, United States: American Education Research Association.


Considering the Role of Gender in Developing a Science Identity: Undergraduate Students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fields at Large, Public, Research Universities (2011).: New Orleans, LA.

Reimagining Research on Recurring Problems in Higher Education (2011).

Symposium presenter: The K-12 Affirmative Action Divide: Bridging Academic and Administrative Communities for Public Education (2011).: New Orleans, LA.

The Critical Role of a Multidisciplinary Perspective in Politics and Policy Decisions (2011).: Nerw Orleans, LA.

The relative contribution of high school origins to college access and success (2003). the Association for the Study of Higher Education: Portland, OR.

Reporting on group differences in test scores (2003). the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media Center on Education Policy: San Francisco.

Examining the achievement gap (2003).: Honolulu, HI.

The relative contribution of high school origins to college access and success (2003).: Chicago.


Member, Government Relations Committee, American Educational Research Association, 2011 - 2014

consulting contributor, NSF/NAE Colloquy on African Americans in STEM, National Science Foundation, 2010 - 2010

Presenter, Children's Defense Fund Retreat on the Education of African American Males, Childrens Defense Fund, 2010 - 2010

Presenter, Washington DC, Childrens Defense Fund, 2010 - 2010

Chair, Palmer O. Johnson Award Committee, AERA, 2008 - 2010

Senior faculty, ASHE Committee on Equity and Diversity/ASHE Equity Institute on Scholarship and Publishing, Association for the Study of Higher Education, 2008 - 2010

Research Advisory Committee Member, Gates Millenium Scholars Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 2001 - 2010

Collaborator for a Local funding effort, Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation, 2009 - 2009

member and reviewer, Sociology of Education, American Sociological Association, 2006 - 2009

PIC Facilitator. Member of Court Appointed Monitoring Team for Champaign, IL Unit 4 Consent Decree, Champaign Community Unit School District 4, 2003 - 2009

Member, New York, Social Science Research Council, 2008 - present

Member, Research Planning Committee, Transitions Research Project, Social Science Research Council, 2003 - 2008

Member, The Higher Learning Commission, 2005 - 2007

ASA Spivak Committee member, American Sociological Association, 2006 - 2006

Committee member, American Educational Research Association, 2006 - 2006

Committee Member, Kellogg Forum on Higher Education, 2002 - 2006

Meber, National Research Council, 2003 - 2005

Member, Higher Education Policy Advisory Board, American Council on Education, 2001 - 2004

Advisor, Illinois Education Research Council, 2002 - present

Committee on Educational Excellence and Testing Equity. The committee is a standing committee of the Board on Testing and Assessment in the Center for Education of the National Research Council in the National Academy of Sciences., 2001 - 2002

Co-chair, Committee on Educational Excellence and Testing Equity for the Board on Testing And Assessment, National Research Council, 1999 - 2002

member, Board on Testing and Assessment, National Research Council, 1996 - 2002

Member, Board on Testing and Assessment, National Academy of Sciences, 1996 - 2002

AERA - IES, AIR, ETS- Fellowship Committee, American Educational Research Association, 2000 - present


My staple course has been the Sociology of Education course. In addition I offer seminars on Access to and in higher education; Education and Stratification, and Education Policy.


Access to Higher Education (EOL 579)

Access to Higher Education (EPOL 556) Explores current practices, conditions, and policies shaping access to college at the undergraduate level. The course is based in a sociological approach to understanding conditions of access to higher education. Provides an opportunity to examine and discuss current research on class, race, gender, institutional policy, and individual factors that are known to impact participation in higher education. Particular attention is given to stratification in higher education including but not limited to: the historical and legal context of access; points of access; pathways to higher education; and the effects of various policies and programs.

Education and Stratification (EPOL 557) Examines the varied and complex interplay between social stratification and education. Through readings covering the theoretical work on stratification and education, students will examine a variety of social inequalities, focusing mainly on educational inequalities. With an emphasis on substantive and methodological critique of empirical works on education and stratification, this course is appropriate for any graduate student interested in the topic of educational inequalities and methodological issues relevant to research on this topic.

Access to Higher Education (EPS 579)

Education and Stratification (EPS 581)