Watson Scott Swail


Watson Scott Swail is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The Educational Policy Institute, a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to policy-based research on educational opportunity for all students, as well as President of EPI International, an international research firm.

Dr. Swail founded EPI in 2002 to meet a growing need for high-level research on educational opportunity issues. Since that time, EPI has conducted dozens of studies on issues from early childhood reading to postsecondary outcomes for students. EPI's clients have included Lumina Foundation for Education, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, the Texas Education Agency, and several state education organizations and local school districts.

Dr. Swail has a very broad understanding of education. He served as a middle school teacher in Canada and the United States for seven years, while also becoming an expert in curriculum design and teacher professional development. He has worked on school reform initiatives and currently assists several school districts around the country with reforms designed to improve student persistence in middle and high school. In 2000, he directed the National Survey of Outreach Programs while working at the College Board, which surveyed over 1,100 programs around the US. He is currently directing the 2010 National Survey of College Outreach Programs.

During his doctoral program at The George Washington University, Dr. Swail developed the geometric framework for student retention, which provides an empirically-based model for understanding how students and institutions move toward their mutual and individual goals. This model is used widely around the world for strategic planning in higher education, and is described in his Jossey-Bass publication, Retaining Minority Students in Higher Education(2003). In 2006, Dr. Swail chaired the first annual International Conference on Student Success, and conducts the Retention 101 workshops around the globe each year.

Widely respected in the area of college opportunity research, Dr. Swail has published extensively in national journals and publications. Recent publications include "Latino Students and the Educational Pipeline," "The Affordability of Higher Education," and "Higher Education and the New Demographics." He has been published in Phi Delta KappanChange, and theChronicle of Higher Education. He is the editor of The Swail Letter on Higher Education andThe Journal of Student Success.

Prior to establishing EPI, Dr. Swail served as the Founding Director of The Pell Institute and Vice President of the Council for Opportunity in Education in Washington, DC. He previously served as senior policy analyst with SRI International, associate director for policy analysis with the College Board, and a research assistant at The McKenzie Group in Washington, DC. While with the Board, Dr. Swail co-directed the Trends in College Pricing and Trends in Student Aid reports released in the U.S. each fall. He is a former technology teacher and taught at Victor Wyatt School in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Benjamin Syms Middle School in Hampton, Virginia, designated as a National School of Excellence by President George H.W. Bush.

In addition to his research and writing, Dr. Swail has taught educational policy and research at The George Washington University in Washington, DC, where he received his doctorate in educational policy. He earned his Master's of Science from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, and Bachelor's of Education from the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Dr. Swail currently serves on the research advisory board of the National Action Council on Minorities in Engineering (NACME), the AVID Postsecondary Advisory Board, the Old Dominion University Darden College of Education Advisory Board, the Council for State Governments’ National Advisory Council on Postsecondary Education Access, and the Board of Directors of St. Louis-based Student Resource Services. In 2009 he served on the Advisory Panel for the National Association for Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), and in 2007 was named a Fellow of the Darden College of Education at Old Dominion University for his "dedicated service and his outstanding contributions in education

To download Dr. Swail's curriculum vita, click here.

To download a jpg of Dr. Swail, click here.

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