Mark Berends appointed director of the Notre Dame Institute for Educational Initiatives

Author: Timothy Will

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Mark Berends, a professor of sociology at the University of Notre Dame who currently directs the Center for Research on Educational Opportunity (CREO) and serves as an associate vice president for research, has been appointed director of the University’s Institute for Educational Initiatives, effective July 1.

Berends, an expert on the myriad factors that influence student academic achievement, has written and published extensively on educational reform, school choice, and the effects of schools and classrooms on student success. His research focuses on how school organization and classroom instruction affect student outcomes, paying special attention to underserved students and school reforms designed to improve educational opportunities. 

“Mark is an intellectual leader whose background, vision, and unwavering passion and dedication to strengthening education, especially Catholic education, in the U.S. and internationally make him an ideal person to lead the institute,” said Marie Lynn Miranda, Charles and Jill Fischer Provost at Notre Dame. “He is absolutely the right person to help the Institute for Educational Initiatives achieve its highest aspirations in serving teachers and students across the U.S. and around the globe.”

Founded in 1996, the Institute for Educational Initiatives comprises more than two dozen initiatives that strive to improve education for all youth, particularly the disadvantaged, paying special, though not exclusive, attention to Catholic schools. The institute is home to more than 30 teaching and clinical faculty members and professors of the practice, as well as 80 faculty fellows from across the University.

Through teaching, research, and outreach, the institute’s scholars and practitioners pursue interdisciplinary collaborations to better understand and improve PK-12 education both in the United States and internationally. The institute is particularly well-known and highly regarded for its distinctive graduate-level licensure programs, ACE Teaching Fellows, and the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program.

In addition to the flagship Alliance for Catholic Education programs, the institute’s initiatives include CREO, which Berends has directed since joining the Notre Dame faculty in 2009; the Education, Schooling and Society undergraduate minor; the Program for Interdisciplinary Educational Research for graduate students; the Global Center for the Development of the Whole Child, Notre Dame Center for STEM Education; and the Notre Dame Center for Literacy Education, among others.

Berends is currently conducting several studies on school choice, including an examination of the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program, parent decision-making and satisfaction in a lottery-based study of charter schools, and how organizational and instructional contexts relate to student outcomes in charter, voucher, and traditional public schools.

Elected to the National Academy of Education in 2020, Berends was also named to the 2021 Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings, an annual listing published by Education Week of academics who had the year’s most significant impact on educational practice and policy.

Berends has authored 10 books and more than 100 journal articles on education topics. He is a fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and a former co-editor of both the American Educational Research Journal and Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. He was twice vice president of the AERA's Educational Policy and Politics Division.

His latest books are School Choice and School Improvement, School Choice at the Crossroads: Research Perspectives, Handbook of Research on School Choice, 2nd Edition, and the International Handbook of the Sociology of Education (forthcoming).

“I am grateful to have this opportunity to lead the Institute for Educational Initiatives and continue working with the outstanding faculty and staff we have in place there,” Berends said. “They bring tremendous enthusiasm and commitment to our mission of improving teaching, learning, and educational outcomes, and I am honored to be their partner in that effort.”