For more than 25 years, Ann E. Austin has been teaching and conducting research at Michigan State University—and beginning Oct. 1, 2016, she will step into her newest role: associate dean for research in the College of Education.
Her duties will include supporting the research mission of the college, especially in dedicated priority areas: urban and global education; science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education; and well-being and work with persons with intellectual disabilities. (Read more about the college’s priority areas in the New Educator.)
Austin hopes to accomplish this by facilitating, encouraging and supporting collaboration among faculty in the college, and across MSU. She believes her current work at the National Science Foundation (NSF) as program director in the Division of Undergraduate Education, which she has held since 2014, will help her in this endeavor.
“NSF has put me on the other end of the grant process,” said Austin, also a professor of Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education (HALE). “I have a better idea of what elements make proposals are strong and how to help researchers develop ideas and projects over time.” While at NSF, Austin helped to manage the grant review process, supported researchers across the U.S. and coordinated evaluation activities of NSF programs.
Austin was appointed to the position by Dean Robert E. Floden, who cited her long and illustrious tenure in the university and college as part of the reasoning behind the selection. Floden previously held the position before being appointed dean in December 2015.
Among the positions held during her career, Floden noted that she was twice selected to hold the Mildred B. Erickson Distinguished Chair in the HALE program, has served as president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), and is an American Education Research Association (AERA) Fellow and has served as an AERA Council member. She also is a founding co-principal investigator and co-leader of the NSF-funded Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL).
CIRTL is one aspect of Austin’s career that she is particularly proud of. It started small, with only three universities. Over the past 13 years of operation, the project has grown to include 46 partner universities that help prepare doctoral students in the STEM fields to be effective teachers as well as strong researchers.
Austin hopes to continue her work with CIRTL, and develop some new research projects, in addition to her appointment as associate dean.
“I love MSU and the College of Education,” Austin said. “The opportunity to help support colleagues is a privilege; I look forward to being able to give back to the college, and use what I’ve learned to support all colleagues. I feel tremendously excited about this opportunity. My husband (John Beck, an associate professor in the College of Social Science) and I are very committed to MSU and its mission. It is a wonderful place to have a career.”