UW-Madison names director of Educational Innovation

May 1, 2014

by Lika Balenovich

Mark Johnson, assistant professor of educational policy studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has been selected as the new director of Educational Innovation (EI), an initiative of the provost’s office.

Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson

In the newly created position, Johnson will be responsible for facilitating and managing the initiative, now in its third year. The campuswide initiative is designed to create and sustain enhanced learning opportunities for UW-Madison students, serve more students and citizens across Wisconsin and provide global opportunities for campus.

"I am excited and honored to be joining this initiative,” Johnson says. “It has already led to creative and potentially transformational changes here at UW-Madison. The many talented faculty and staff who are involved seem inspired by a shared passion for teaching and learning, as well as a spirit of service to the state and the world.”

Johnson has been an assistant professor at UW-Madison since 2009 and previously worked as a tenured associate professor of history at Colorado College.

He has more than 20 years of experience participating in and leading higher education reform projects, and academic and partnership program evaluations. His academic and professional experiences have encompassed diverse fields including history, international studies, public diplomacy and educational studies.

Johnson has also worked with the World Bank, the U.S. Department of State, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

He is a UW-Madison graduate who received a bachelor’s degree with honors in history in 1984 and a doctorate in history and certificate in Russian studies from Columbia University in 1995 and 1997.

“This new position will allow me to bring together my experience here at UW-Madison as an undergraduate, where I was inspired by some great teacher-scholars, my years of teaching and service at Colorado College, and my research and teaching interests on reform trends and innovation in global higher education," Johnson says.

Johnson will work in close partnership with both the vice provost for teaching and learning and the vice provost for lifelong learning and in consultation with the provost.

“I am thrilled that Mark has accepted the challenge of leading our Educational Innovation effort forward,” says Christopher Olsen, interim vice provost for teaching and learning. “I believe his global perspective on higher education issues and solutions make him a uniquely qualified individual, and I look forward to working together.”

“The many talented faculty and staff who are involved seem inspired by a shared passion for teaching and learning, as well as a spirit of service to the state and the world.”

Mark Johnson

As EI director, Johnson will focus primarily on building connections with students and the wider campus community to develop transformative learning experiences, while developing and implementing an assessment plan for EI funded projects. He will also play a key role in working with campus stakeholders to address barriers to innovation in order to strengthen current and future efforts.

“Mark brings unique skills and perspectives to the table that complement the EI effort,” says Jeffrey Russell, vice provost for lifelong learning and dean of the Division of Continuing Studies. “His experience with teaching and learning, background in educational policy evaluation and assessment, interest in graduate education and new models of collaboration, and his commitment to shared governance make him an excellent candidate for this position.”

Johnson was selected from 66 candidates from across the country and was one of three finalists recommended to the provost by a six-member search and screen committee composed of faculty, staff and students. He will begin his new role May 26.

More information about EI can be found here.