Public affairs professors named to leadership of national science, education organizations

Two Arizona State University School of Public Affairs professors began work this fall in national leadership positions in prestigious research and education organizations.

Mary Feeney, a full professor and Lincoln Professor of Ethics in Public Affairs, is the new program director of the Science of Science: Discovery, Communication and Impact Program at the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Derrick Anderson, an associate professor of science and technology policy, is the new senior vice president for learning and engagement at the American Council on Education (ACE).

'An opportunity to run a great program'

Feeney said the Science of Science program will offer her an excellent opportunity to explore new ways to communicate about science and scientific discovery.

“It’s an opportunity to run a great program that focuses on the social science of science – how science policy is implemented, how scientists do their work and what makes scientific teams and work successful,” she said.

Feeney said she is filling a big role but welcomes the challenge. She said she is excited to work with the NSF to expand research opportunities for individuals from historically excluded groups including women, people of color, Indigenous researchers and those working in new or underfunded social science disciplines.

Feeney is editor of the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory and associate director of the Center for Science, Technology and Environmental Policy Studies, based in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. She is working on a center team project, SciOPS, that investigates scientists’ opinions about current issues such as working with the media and the effects of COVID-19 on their work.

A fellow in the National Academy of Public Administration, Feeney’s research “focuses on public and nonprofit management and science and technology policy,” according to her biography.

“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to put my science policy research into practice, as well as to help the NSF direct funding toward projects that advance its mission and expand NSF funding to scholars working on innovative projects across disciplines,” Feeney said.

The NSF is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity and welfare; to secure the national defense," according to a description on its website. NSF supports “basic research and people to create knowledge that transforms the future.”

Coordinating research activities; professional learning, development

Anderson is the university’s managing director of university design and is a senior adviser to ASU President Michael Crow. Anderson also conducts research at the Watts College-based Center for Organization Research and Design.

Anderson “has directed or co-directed multiple national-scale research initiatives including the National Administrative Studies Project and the NSF-funded National Study of Research Collaboration (a joint project between the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech),” according to his biography.

Anderson said ACE, a 103-year-old organization that promotes American higher education in the United States and throughout the world, provides professional development, university transformation services and industry insights to more than 1,700 member institutions.

“My assignment involves the coordination of research activities, professional learning and development and engagement activities in the programmatic arm of the ACE,” he said.

Anderson said he is honored to have been selected for the post and is hopeful that he can continue advancing work he has been involved in at ASU on a national level.

Anderson has been working with Crow on university design and university initiatives, creating operational logics and cultures intended to displace existing bureaucratic structures in higher education.

“The dominant bureaucratic models in higher education invite universities to limit their operations based on available resources,” Anderson said, “whereas the new enterprise logics we are developing at ASU empower universities to start with a vision for impact and then work forward entrepreneurially to find whatever resources are available to fulfill their visions for impact.”

ACE, the major coordinating body for U.S. universities and colleges, “mobilizes the higher education community to shape public policy and foster innovative, high-quality practice,” according to its website.

Watts College interim Dean and President’s Professor Cynthia Lietz said Anderson and Feeney are excellent examples the School of Public Affairs’ highly accomplished faculty.

“Our School of Public Affairs includes an impressive set of scholars recognized for the quality and impact of their research. These two prestigious appointments of Dr. Mary Feeney and Dr. Derrick Anderson provide further evidence that our faculty are nationally recognized leaders in their respective fields,” Lietz said. “I am pleased to extend my congratulations to Derrick and Mary on these accomplishments.”

School of Public Affairs Director and Foundation Professor Donald Siegel said both Feeney’s and Anderson’s appointments are notable examples of why the school enjoys an excellent national standing. 

“Professor Feeney’s outstanding scholarly and editorial accomplishments and long-standing commitment to rigorous research on science policy make her an ideal choice for this important leadership role at the National Science Foundation,” Siegel said. “This prestigious appointment also adds significant luster to the School of Public Affairs’ reputation as the nation’s leading center for research on innovation policy and technology transfer.”

Siegel called Anderson one of the nation’s leading experts on higher education policy, a key research area at the Center for Organization Research and Design.

“Professor Anderson has also played a vital role in launching a variety of initiatives here at ASU that have made us the most innovative university in the world. Thus, it is entirely appropriate that the American Council on Education, the major coordinating body for America’s colleges and universities, has chosen him for this prestigious position,” Siegel said. “This is a quintessential example of ‘engaged scholarship,’ which will simultaneously enhance the School of Public Affairs’ reputation as a world leader in higher education policy.” 

Mark J. Scarp
mscarp@asu.edu