University of Wisconsin–Madison

Nicholas Strohl

Advisor: William J. Reese (History), Adam R. Nelson (EPS)

Nicholas Strohl


I am a joint Ph.D. candidate in History and Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, studying the history of education and the foundations of American education. My research is focused on the history of higher education and American higher education policy, with connections to the history of K-12 schooling and twentieth century American intellectual and political history. My dissertation, entitled “Higher Education and the Public Good: The Truman Commission and the Case for Universal College Access in the 20th Century,” explores the history of the United States’s first national commission on higher education policy, also known as the Truman Commission, which is remembered today for its call to provide higher education access to all Americans and to make public colleges and universities tuition-free. The project examines, among its key themes, debates about the federal role in American education; the relationship between education and democratic citizenship; the role of race, religion, and gender in national education policy debates; and the origins of post-World War II federal higher education legislation, especially the Higher Education Act of 1965.

In addition to my dissertation research, I have co-authored (with Adam R. Nelson) a book chapter on the history of education funding in the United States after World War II, and I am currently writing a chapter on the history of student life at community and junior colleges for a forthcoming volume on the history of student life in American higher education.


M.Phil., University of Cambridge (UK), 2005
B.A., Yale University, 2004


  • History of Education; American Intellectual and Political History; Higher Education and K-12 Education Policy

MA Title

  • “Post-History”: On the Future of the Study of the Past (University of Cambridge, 2005)

Working Dissertation Title

  • “Higher Education and the Public Good: The Truman Commission and the Case for Universal College Access in the 20th Century”

Selected Publications

  • Nelson, Adam R. and Nicholas M. Strohl. “From Helping the Poor to Helping the Middle Class: The Convergence of K-12 and Higher Education Policy Funding Since 1965.” In The Convergence of K-12 and Higher Education: Policies and Programs in a Changing Era edited by Christopher P. Loss and Patrick J. McGuinn. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2016.
  • “The Postmodern University Revisited: Re-framing Higher Education Debates from the ‘Two Cultures’ to Postmodernity.” London Review of Education 4, 2 (July 2006): 133-148.


  • Wisconsin-Mellon Summer Dissertation Fellowship, 2017
  • NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship, Semi-finalist, May 2016
  • Sterling Fishman Memorial Scholarship Prize for Outstanding Scholarship in the History of Education, Department of Educational Policy Studies, May 2015
  • Herbert Kliebard Award for Outstanding Achievement in Educational Policy Studies, May 2013

Professional Affiliations

  • History of Education Society

Courses Taught as TA

  • History 403 – History of Immigration and Assimilation in the United States
  • EPS/History 412 – The History of American Education

Courses Taught as Instructor

  • Counseling Psychology 125 – The Wisconsin Experience Seminar
  • EPS/History 412 – The History of American Education