Indiana University

Skip to:

  1. Search
  2. Breadcrumb Navigation
  3. Content
  4. Browse by Topic
  5. Services & Resources
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Multimedia News

Last modified: Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Heidi A. Ross

Distinguished Teaching Award -- The President's Award

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

Colleagues of Heidi Ross praise the quality and breadth of her scholarship and the energy and creativity that she brings to the role of teacher and administrator. But some of the most telling comments come from Ross's students, especially the graduate students for whom she has served as a mentor.

"Every time I teach a class or speak with a student of mine, I always have a role model in my mind to follow. That is Professor Heidi Ross," writes Jingjing Lou, who earned a Ph.D. at IU Bloomington under Ross's supervision and is now a faculty member at Beloit College. "Every time I receive a message or a card from students saying how I have made an impact on them, I think of Professor Heidi Ross, as she is the one who made such a deep impact on me first."

Ross came to Indiana University after serving as a professor of educational studies and director of Asian studies at Colgate University. A scholar of comparative and international education, she has published widely on Chinese education, gender and schooling, and qualitative research methodology. Her books include China Learns English, The Ethnographic Eye, and Taking Teaching Seriously.

"I think it is fair to say that she is one of the leading scholars of comparative education in this country," says Richard Rubinger, a professor in the IU Bloomington Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures. "She is without peer in the field of gender education in China, a topic that is now becoming of great interest to scholars across the fields of comparative education, gender studies, and East Asian studies."

In addition to her teaching and research, Ross is director of the East Asian Studies Center, where she has been committed to increasing funding for cross-national learning opportunities for IU students, especially those whose study has an Asian focus. She also is codirector of the Pan-Asia Institute established by IU in partnership with the Australian National University.

"A university administrator is a university educator," she says, "and I strive to create with staff, students, and colleagues learning communities with shared missions."

Ross says her teaching ethos is simple: "Every student can and does learn and has the right to the best possible education. To this end my teaching starts with the creation and careful tending of [trans]national communities of learning and practice. This process involves nurturing diverse environments for student-centered learning that fosters global awareness and vision."

The result, says Martha McCarthy, IU Chancellor's Professor and chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, is that graduate students describe their experiences in Ross's classes as "life-transforming" and "the best class experience of all." They refer to Ross as "highly engaging and inspiring" and say that she has caused them to "willingly rethink [their] research in a more hopeful way."

"Another distinction of Professor Ross's exemplary teaching is the quality of her undergraduate courses, especially ones such as Challenges of World-Class Schooling in Japan and China," McCarthy says. "Her vision is to enable more than learning in the classroom; she wants her students to engage in actual fieldwork in an international context."

In 2009 the IU undergraduates in that course spent two weeks touring Japan and China, visited Asian schools to collect data, and presented their research findings to graduate students at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Desiree Cossyleon was one of those students. "Some of my favorite memories," Cossyleon says, "include Professor Ross introducing us to exotic Chinese cuisine as we ate a Peking duck meal, helping us win a relentless bargain for pearl strands in Beijing's bustling markets, and jumping up and clicking her heels with the rest of the class as we took a group photo on the Great Wall of China."

Such cherished memories indicate the extent to which Ross helps her students expand their international awareness, an awareness that can last a lifetime.