“Sociology Graduate Student Receives Prestigious Postdoctoral Fellowship at Stanford University”

By Staci Wilson, Student Intern CHASS Dean’s Office
October 27, 2010

Next month, Kristopher Proctor, a recent Ph.D. graduate in sociology, will be moving north to continue his research at Stanford University, where he has been awarded a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  At Stanford, Dr. Proctor will be working on a project analyzing “the new ecology of higher education.” He will be working with Professor Michael Kirst, an educational policy specialist, and Professor Mitchell L. Stevens, a sociologist who specializes in higher education studies.

Proctor received his AA degree from Spokane Falls Community College in 1998 and graduated with a BA in sociology from the University of Washington before beginning a graduate program at the University of California Riverside, where he specialized in criminology and sociological theory. Once at UCR, however, Dr. Proctor became involved with the Colleges and Universities 2000 Project, a research endeavor led by Professor of Sociology and CHASS Associate Dean Steven Brint.

The Colleges and Universities 2000 Project investigates changes in the curriculum and organization of higher education institutions between the years 1971 and 2005-6. The project first received funding from the National Science Foundation in 2000, and since then has produced two databases, the Institutional Data Archive and the College Catalog Study, as resources for the study of higher education.  The project has also produced  over a dozen papers discussing such topics as the rise of interdisciplinary programs, changes in general education requirements, the market-model university, and the rise and fall of academic fields.

Proctor recalls starting to work with Professor Brint in 2004 when they collaborated on a book chapter about work and lifestyles among U.S. professionals and managers. Soon after becoming involved in this work, he developed an interest in the organization of higher education institutions and found himself immersed in Professor Brint’s research. His initial involvement consisted primarily of preparing the College Catalogue Study Database for release, but eventually included the roles of both data manager and primary statistician. In Dr. Proctor’s words, “For me, the most interesting part of the project is being able to empirically examine how knowledge is institutionalized in a variety of forms in higher education institutions.”

Since this work began, Dr. Proctor has authored or co-authored seven articles, six in peer reviewed journals, and written his dissertation on theoretical formalism in relation to criminology. Proctor has also been involved in giving over a dozen presentations at professional conferences. Though his primary project responsibilities were in the areas of data management and analysis, Professor Brint reports that Proctor also contributed many ideas and suggested some novel analytical approaches for the papers the research team produced. As data manager, Proctor also supervised the work of other graduate students who were involved in coding data for the two project databases. Professor Brint observed, “Kris’s data management and statistical skills are equal to, or greater than, those of any advanced graduate student or beginning assistant professor I have known.” 

“I have worked with a number of very talented students here at UCR,” Professor Brint observed, “and Kris is certainly among the most outstanding.  I am looking forward to continuing to work with him as a colleague now that he is moving to this post-doctoral position at Stanford.”

Further information about the Colleges and Universities 2000 Project, including news updates on the research, a glance at the databases and publications, and background on the project staff is available at http://higher-ed2000.ucr.edu/index.html.

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