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Alyssa Rockenbach

Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor


Poe Hall 300N


Alyssa N. Rockenbach (she/her) is Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development at North Carolina State University. She teaches and mentors students in the Higher Education Administration master’s program and the Higher Education Opportunity, Equity, and Justice Ph.D. concentration. Alyssa’s work explores questions such as:

  • How do college students of different religious, secular, and spiritual identities make meaning of their lives and experience college? What helps religiously minoritized students flourish in college, especially those who are marginalized at the intersections of religion, race, gender, sexuality, class, and disability?
  • How do college students develop and sustain friendships across social differences? To what extent do these friendships cultivate empathy, love, and appreciation?
  • What are the facilitators of justice and equity for queer and trans people in higher education and society?
  • What characterizes the communities of support forged by neurodivergent and autistic people in higher education?

Alyssa was co-Principal Investigator of a five-year national study, the Interfaith Diversity Experiences and Attitudes Longitudinal Survey (IDEALS), which explored how educational experiences shape college students’ capacity to engage empathically across religious, secular, and spiritual differences. In addition to academic journals in and beyond the field of higher education, her work has been featured in media outlets such as The Chronicle of Higher EducationInside Higher Ed, Huffington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and The Washington Post. Alyssa is co-author of the 2016 book, How College Affects Students: 21st Century Evidence that Higher Education Works, a synthesis of over 1,800 research studies of college impact conducted from 2002 to 2013, and she co-edited the 2012 volume, Spirituality in College Students’ Lives: Translating Research Into Practice.

Alyssa is deeply invested in supporting students’ journeys as emerging higher education scholars and professionals and creating humanizing community among graduate students. She enjoys teaching courses on college student outcomes and transformative research methods. Alyssa’s pastimes include spending time with her partner and three children, reading, taking walks, dabbling in arts and crafts, and birdwatching. She received her B.A. in Psychology from California State University, Long Beach and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles.