As Lynch School professors Henry Braun and Diana Pullin were recently reminded, the road to recognition sometimes takes unexpected turns.
When the prestigious National Academy of Education (NAEd)—a collection of just over 200 elite researchers who addresses education’s most pressing issues—announced that Braun and Pullin had been elected to its ranks, the two professors were pleasantly surprised to see their names on the list.
Their surprise was not because they lack qualifications—quite the contrary: Braun and Pullin possess impressive resumes with signficiant research and extensive work outside of academia.
They assumed that their bodies of work—with unconventional entrées into academics—didn’t fit the bill for NAEd, which in the past had mostly inducted career academics who followed more traditional paths. As part of a push two years ago, however, NAEd now includes more scholars whose work directly influences policy.
Scholars, in other words, like Braun and Pullin.
An Extraordinary Model: Henry Braun’s Career Trajectory
Henry Braun, director of Boston College’s Center for the Study of Testing, Evaluation, and Educational Policy, made his name in statistical modeling and test analysis at Educational Testing Service (ETS), one of the world’s largest testing organizations. Among other projects at ETS, Braun sought to improve scores’ predictive abilities and developed a computerized system for credentialing architects. Beginning in 2000, he shifted his focus to quantifying education’s seemingly unquantifiable elements: evaluations of interventions, personnel, and policies.
Currently, Braun is examining the relationships between background, personal characteristics (like gender), and adult outcomes in international large-scale assessments; evaluating teacher preparation programs; and investigating the value of liberal arts approaches in higher education. He has also served in an advisory role for the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers for the states of Massachusetts, Missouri, and Louisiana.
Though he’s honored to have been elected to NAEd, Braun has never strived for accolades. “We do our work with the hope that it contributes to not only the health of the research community, but more importantly to educational policy—with all the impact it has on students at every level,” Braun said. “To the extent that our work is recognized by the profession, that’s a bonus.”
Diana Pullin’s Decades of Influence
Professor of Education Law and Public Policy Diana Pullin began her career as a lawyer, arguing high-profile cases through the late-1980s before joining the Lynch School as professor and dean. Pullin is also a professor in the Boston College Law School.
Since she arrived at Boston College, Pullin has concentrated her research on the nexus of law, public policy, and education reform while maintaining a role in legal proceedings; she still consults with attorneys, helping them decide how to pursue impactful cases. These days, Pullin embodies the Lynch School’s social justice mission with a focus on improving students’ access to meaningful educational opportunities.
Regarding her election to NAEd, Pullin was pleased to have made contributions worthy of this appointment. “It never occurred to me that it could happen,” Pullin said, “precisely because of the unusual way I’ve conducted my career.”
With their election, Braun and Pullin join the Lynch School’s Cawthorne Professor Marilyn Cochran-Smith as members of NAEd. An induction ceremony for Braun, Pullin, and other new members will take place during the 2017 NAEd Annual Meeting in November.