The University of Notre Dame will establish an Institute for Educational Initiatives to conduct research on schools and the educational process with the aim of devoting its findings to the improvement of American educational policy and practice, according to Nathan O. Hatch, the University’s provost.p. Maureen Hallinan, White Professor of Arts and Letters at Notre Dame and one of the world’s foremost scholars in the sociology of education, will direct the new institute, which will begin its work in the fall of 1997.p. A major focus of the institute’s research will be on the education of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Institute faculty will seek to identify the factors that promote students’ cognitive and social development in schools that vary organizationally and that differ in students’ backgrounds and in curriculum and instructional techniques.p. The institute will integrate its research mission with teaching, offering Notre Dame students both graduate and undergraduate level courses in disciplines such as the sociology, economics and history of education, educational psychology, and education policy. A major initiative of the institute will be a summer master of arts in teaching program that will provide rigorous and innovative training to graduate students from a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds who are interested in teaching. In this initiative, the institute will cooperate in and expand the work of the University’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE), which provides dedicated young teachers to understaffed parochial schools throughout the U.S.p. “The quality of primary and secondary education in America, and what can be done to improve it, is one of the most urgent challenges facing the country,” Hatch said in announcing the initiative. "Through the Institute for Educational Initiatives, Notre Dame hopes to make an important contribution to the revitalization of American education. And as a Catholic university, we hope especially to benefit parochial education, which has been such a proud and vital ministry in the American church.p. “It is also important to note that our undertaking this initiative owes greatly to the presence at Notre Dame of Maureen Hallinan, one of the most qualified scholars in all of education to direct such an institute.”p. “My hope is that during the next two years the Institute for Educational Initiatives will be established as a nationally recognized center for disciplinary-based research on contemporary educational issues,” Hallinan said. "The institute’s basic and applied studies will be made available to educational practitioners and policy makers to inform their critical decisions.p. “In the near future, the institute will take advantage of current public interest in the success of private schools in fostering student achievement to draw attention to the special features of Catholic schools that promote learning, especially among disadvantaged students.”p. Hallinan is a member of the Sociological Research Association, which is limited to 60 lifetime members selected for the strength of their scholarship and for the national and international recognition accorded their research. She also recently concluded a much-praised term as president of the prestigious American Sociological Association, whose membership of 13,000 encompasses the academic community as well as researchers in government, business and nonprofit organizations.p. Hallinan’s research into the consequences of academic tracking of secondary school students has been supported by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation. She also has conducted landmark studies of the formation of friendships among schoolchildren.p. Hallinan joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1984 as William P. and Hazel B. White professor, the second woman to be named to an endowed professorship at the University. Previously, she had been professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin as well as a visiting professor at the University of Chicago and Stanford University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Marymount College in 1961, her master’s in mathematics from Notre Dame in 1968, and a joint doctorate in sociology and education from Chicago in 1972.