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Brian French tabbed as new research and external funding assistant dean

Closeup of Brian French sitting on a concrete bench.
Brian French

PULLMAN, Wash. – Brian French is the new associate dean for research and external funding in the College of Education.

He succeeds Amy Roth McDuffie, from WSU Tri-Cities, who has served in the post since 2015.

“We’re thrilled to have Brian assume this important role,” said dean Mike Trevisan. “We greatly benefited from having Amy lead these efforts the past four years, and she left us in a spot where Brian can build upon that good work and take things to the next level.”

In addition to being the Berry Family Distinguished Professor in the College of Education, French’s methodological expertise in psychometrics, latent variable modeling, simulation, and research design is unequaled on campus and recognized nationally.

This expertise has allowed French to work with a variety of research domains, groups, and individuals. French knows this collaboration is vital in a college where important societal research ranges from women’s health during pregnancy, to the best methods to teach science and mathematics.

“What is most exciting for me about this role is that I have the opportunity to embrace the diversity of my colleagues’ research,” he said. “I think this collaborative experience I have gives me a unique lens through which to approach the duties of this position.”

As for his own primary research, French investigates validity issues for the use of test and assessment scores. Because these scores are used to make decisions about individuals and groups, validity issues, such as test bias, are crucial to better understand them. His work has influenced fields from health and agricultural safety, to education and psychology. The results of these studies help make fair and accurate decisions about people. This ranges from cochlear implant patients, to developing children, to effective classroom teachers.

While French certainly understands the concern many feel about leadership positions being a sacrifice to their own research, he said he plans to look at it a little differently.

“I see this position as a unique opportunity to balance the duties of the position while being creative in maintaining my active program of research with my graduate students and colleagues,” he said. “If you are willing to adapt to your new environment, solutions are possible. So, I am excited.”

One of French’s immediate goals is to gain a deeper understanding of the work occurring within the College of Education.

“This would include how various research agendas are developing, and what resources and infrastructure we need to support these agendas,” he said.

French serves as the chair of the Educational Testing Service’s Technical Advisory Committee for the GRE program. He’s also executive editor of the Journal of Experimental Education’s Measurement, Statistics, and Research Design section. He is a member of numerous professional associations, including: National Council on Measurement in Education; International Test Commission; and American Psychological Association. His research has led to more than 105 peer-reviewed publications, several books on psychometrics, and has had continuous funding from sources such as IES, NIH, NSF, and USDA.

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