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Last modified: Friday, April 13, 2012

Heidi Ross

The John W. Ryan Award for Distinguished Contributions to International Programs and Studies

Professor of Educational Policy Studies and Comparative Education
Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
School of Education
University Graduate School
Indiana University Bloomington
Appointed to IU Faculty, 2003
B.A., Oberlin College, 1975
M.A., University of Michigan, 1978
Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1987

Heidi Ross describes her academic fields as "not just geographical and intellectual locations, but also socially constructed fields of lifelong obligation -- to students, colleagues, knowledge construction and professional development." As the director of the East Asian Studies Center and co-director of the Australian National University-Indiana University Pan-Asian Institute, she served as an integral member of the Indiana University Bloomington International Studies Task Force.

Her efforts have not gone unnoticed: Since becoming director of the East Asian Studies Center, she has annually been the recipient of a grant from the Freeman Foundation to support her work as project director of the National Consortium for Teaching About Asia, a project developed to educate teachers of American middle and high schoolers about East Asian studies. Additionally, Ross has been instrumental on the advisory board of the Confucius Institute in Indianapolis and assisted in partnering the School of Education with Chinese and Japanese schools to facilitate the Cultural Immersion Projects program.

Martha McCarthy, Chancellor's Professor Emerita and former chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, calls Ross' teaching abilities legendary: "She is a world-renowned professor of comparative and international education who has spent her career building bridges for Indiana University students to many other institutions and intellectuals worldwide, especially those in Asia." In addition to taking two groups of IU undergraduates to China and Japan to study educational reform, Ross has developed mentoring partnerships between American graduate students and Chinese host families.

She has also hosted a number of visiting Chinese and Japanese scholars at IU. Further, McCarthy says, Ross has, since 2005, found "over $3 million in funds to support undergraduate teaching and language training and professional development and study-abroad opportunities for thousands of secondary public school teachers."

These endeavors have heightened interest in East Asia among students and teachers at IU and throughout Indiana. Of her East Asian Studies Center directorship, colleague Robert Eno says, "I can say with assurance that no director has ever provided the type of engagement and leadership in sustaining and enlarging IU's successes."

According to Gary Crow, chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Ross is a living testament of international service "in the way she collaborates with other faculty, mentors both U.S. and international graduate students, facilitates IU's visibility to the East Asian area, and demonstrates sensitivity and awareness of our global connections."

Not surprisingly, Ross' research interests reflect her dedication to global awareness. Concerns with issues pertaining to inequality and social mobility have led her to study such specialized areas as social capital among marginalized Chinese and Indian girls. Ross' work has made a significant impact in the lives of hundreds of girls in the Shaanxi Province of China, providing them with scholarships to continue their educations.

A prominent and influential scholar, Ross has more than 50 publications to her name. She has produced two books, co-edited two volumes and published articles in such prestigious professional journals as Comparative Education Review, Compare, Journal of Women and Gender Studies, and History of Education Quarterly. Within her specialty of Asian education, the journals China Yearbook in Education, International Journal of Chinese Education, Journal of Asian Studies and Chinese Research Perspectives on Educational Development have all benefited from her editorial expertise.

Ross' colleagues assert that "without a doubt, she has single-handedly accounted for a great increase in the quality and volume of our graduate applicants from East Asia, and she has worked tirelessly on behalf of these students, identifying opportunities for them to participate professionally, co-authoring and mentoring them to success."

"In sum," one concludes, "Dr. Ross is an exceptionally effective leader and cross-cultural communicator, and her work in and with China has brought great recognition to Indiana University. Across the world, the nation, the state and the campus, Dr. Ross' energy and ideas have made a significant difference."