EAST LANSING, Mich. — Kenneth Frank has dedicated his research career to better understanding social structures and their impacts on organizations. His significant research, international recognition, and creative teaching methods, have led to Frank being named the latest MSU Foundation Professor and the first for the College of Education at Michigan State.
“This award recognizes Professor Frank’s preeminence in his field,” said MSU Provost June Youatt. “MSU Foundation Professorships demonstrate the University’s commitment to invest in our outstanding faculty scholars and support their continued research trajectory.”
The title is bestowed by Michigan State University (MSU), with support from the MSU Foundation. Dr. Frank will receive supplemental research support over five years and hold the MSU Foundation Professor designation permanently.
Frank specifically researches social networks within schools, looking at groups of teachers and adolescents and how those social contexts–institutional pressures or peer pressures–can shape reactions and practices. He also studies both the organizational characteristics of the school (e.g., classroom sizes and set-ups) and the individual characteristics (e.g., gender and socioeconomic status) and their impacts on friendships in teenagers. Translating to practice, Dr. Frank’s work has informed schools on the implementation of interventions to improve both teaching and student outcomes.
“He is a model for conducting strong basic research and then translating those results into real solutions,” said Stephen Hsu, vice president for Research and Graduate Studies.
His research broadens beyond education, from the pioneering of new techniques for sensitivity analysis for qualitative research, to examining the decision-making processes of artisanal fishermen and small-scale farmers. His interdisciplinary work is extraordinary and marks him as one of the most broad-based scholars in the College of Education.
Frank, a professor of Measurement and Quantitative Methods in the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education, 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.”
Frank is affiliated with the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, the Education Policy Center and the Center for Statistical Training and Consulting (CSTAT). He also holds a joint appointment in Fisheries and Wildlife within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.