Friday, June 21, 2024

A distinguished figure in the field of educational measurement, Deborah Harris bids farewell to her esteemed career, including seven years of invaluable service as a professor in the University of Iowa College of Education's Educational Measurement and Statistics program.

Harris, who joined the University of Iowa Iowa College of Education in 2017 as a visiting professor, brought with her a wealth of experience garnered over more than three decades at ACT, where she played a pivotal role in shaping the assessment landscape, including the implementation of the college entrance exam on a computer.

“I’ve been very fortunate to be in this field and at the University of Iowa, where so much was developed through Lindquist,” Harris says of her life’s work. “What we do is really important as we measure which students need help and who is succeeding in different areas.” 

Her tenure at the University of Iowa was characterized by a steadfast commitment to excellence and a relentless pursuit of innovation in educational measurement.

Throughout her career, Harris has been at the forefront of advancements in assessment methodologies and data analysis techniques, earning her widespread acclaim and recognition within the academic community. Her contributions have not only enriched the scholarly discourse but have also had a tangible impact on educational practices nationwide.

Harris’ resume includes a three-year stint as the president elect, president, and past president of the National Council for Measurement in Education. She also served as editor-in-chief for Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice for three years.

Reflecting on her remarkable journey, Harris expressed gratitude for the opportunities she has had to make a meaningful difference in the lives of students and colleagues alike.

"Throughout my career, the thing that was most meaningful was that I got to work with so many amazingly gifted people," says Harris. "I am so incredibly grateful to the College of Education, the Iowa Measurement Research Foundation, and the Iowa Testing Programs. They’ve been so instrumental to my whole career. I started at Iowa as a postdoc, and to be able to finish my career here, it’s like book ends.”

As a revered mentor and educator, Harris leaves behind a legacy of mentorship, having nurtured the talents of numerous students and colleagues, instilling in them a passion for research, and a commitment to academic rigor. Her departure from the College of Education will be deeply felt by all who had the privilege of working with her.

Alumna Cathy Welch, (BBA '80, MA '84, PhD '90) Iowa Testing Programs co-director and professor of Educational Measurement and Statistics, has worked closely with Harris for almost 30 years, both at ACT and in the UI College of Education. She says that Harris has been an exceptional leader and colleague who has make substantial contributions to the field of educational measurement throughout her long and distinguished career.

“Deb has been a leader in the research and psychometrics of educational measurement for over 40 years,” Welch says. “However, it is her contributions as a mentor and teacher that will continue to shape many generations of educational measurement professionals.”

Even though her last official day with the college is June 30, Harris says she knows she will continue to keep in touch with her many cherished colleagues, mentees, and friends.

“My career has been such a big part of my life, and I just don’t think it’s ever going to go away completely,” says Harris. “I’m not one of those people that can walk away and never look back.”