Frank appointed as MSU Foundation Professor

August 17, 2015

Professor Kenneth Frank has been appointed as an MSU Foundation Professor, a first for the College of Education.

Frank will officially be named on August 16, 2015 as the MSU Foundation Professor of Sociometrics, Fisheries and Wildlife. Frank, a professor in the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education, named the endowed position himself, giving credit to all of his major research areas—and it is because of his extensive research areas and portfolio that he was nominated by Dean Donald E. Heller for the position.

“Ken is known internationally for his research on social networks in educational settings, as well as for his statistical analyses utilizing a variety of cutting-edge techniques,” Heller said. “He is also recognized as an innovative and caring teacher, drawing on an array of technological and pedagogical techniques to engage a broad composition of students.”

MSU is growing the number of named professor positions, evidenced by the establishment of MSU Foundation Professors in 2014 by the MSU Foundation. Titles are given to individuals who are recognized within MSU and externally for their research and teaching innovation. Frank is one of three professors to receive the award in 2015.

Frank studies social networks within schools, looking at groups of teachers and adolescents. He looks at how social contexts—such as institutional pressures or responding to what courses peers choose—can shape reactions and practices. Frank also studies how organizational characteristics of the school (e.g., classroom sizes and set-ups) and individual characteristics (e.g., gender and socioeconomic status) can affect friendships in teenagers.

His research broadens from there, including pioneering new techniques for sensitivity analysis for qualitative research, and examining the decision-making processes of artisanal fishermen and small-scale farmers.

“One of the reasons I think I was nominated by Dean Heller was that I extend out of educational research into other areas, like sociology, fisheries and psychology,” Frank said. His history proves it: Frank has published in numerous journals, including ones in sociology, psychology, public policy, labor and industrial relations and other interdisciplinary journals. And in the past five years alone, Frank has been the principal investigator or co-principal investigated on almost $13 million in external funding. But Frank is also the first so say that while he is “very excited” about the opportunity to be an MSU Foundation Professor, “there are many, many people in the College of Education who are equally as worthy of such an honor.”

In addition to carrying the title of MSU Foundation Professor of Sociometrics, Fisheries and Wildlife with him permanently while at MSU, Frank will also receive five years of supplemental support from the university for research support.

Information on Frank’s more recent environmental research can be found in a June article from MSU Today: “Environmental activism works, study shows.”