Thomas Cook Honored with Peter Rossi Award for Program Evaluation

Thomas Cook Honored with Peter Rossi Award for Program Evaluation

Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook has been selected to receive the 2012 Peter H. Rossi Award for Contributions to the Theory or Practice of Program Evaluation. Cook is a professor of sociology, psychology, education and social policy at Northwestern University and a faculty fellow at the Institute for Policy Research.

Cook will receive the award at the annual fall research conference of the Association for Public Policy and Management on November 9. At an award symposium he will give a major talk, entitled “Bringing Interrupted Time Series Designs in from the Cold.” His address will illustrate the use of interrupted time series as a research design for program evaluation.

The Rossi Award was established to honor the lifetime achievements of Peter Rossi, a prominent sociologist best known for tracing changes in American homelessness in the 1980s. The University of Maryland School of Public Policy sponsors the award in association with the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

Cook’s primary field of research is the methodology of program evaluation, specifically field experimentation and quasi-experimentation. He coauthored important books in the field of program evaluation that have become required reading for graduate students in social sciences: Quasi-Experimentation, Foundations of Program Evaluation and Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs for Generalized Causal Inference.

Altogether, Cook has written or edited 10 books, and he has also published numerous articles and book chapters. His honors include the Myrdal Prize for Science from the Evaluation Research Society in 1982, the Donald Campbell Prize for Innovative Methodology from the Policy Sciences Organization in 1988, and the Distinguished Scientist Award of Division 5 of the American Psychological Association in 1997. He is a trustee of the Russell Sage Foundation and a member of its Committee on the Future of Work. Cook was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in April 2000 and was inducted as the Margaret Mead Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science in April 2003.

Much of Cook’s work relates to school reform and factors that influence adolescent development, particularly for urban minorities. For example, Cook has collaborated on evaluations of Sesame Street, Comer’s School Development Program in Chicago and pre-kindergarten programs. Recently he was part of the congressionally appointed committee evaluating No Child Left Behind from 2006 to 2008. Currently, he chairs the MacArthur Research Network on How Housing Matters for Children and Families.

Past recipients of the Rossi Award are Howard Bloom of MDRC, Rebecca Maynard of University of Pennsylvania, Judith Gueron of MRDC, Grover Whitehurst of the Institute of Education Sciences, Robinson Hollister of Swarthmore College and Frederick Mosteller of Harvard University. The award, which was established in 2005, is given every two years.

In a letter of nomination, one colleague praised Cook as a “model of the ‘trans-disciplinary’ researcher who draws widely from many areas to use the best of what exists in the way of methodological and theoretical ideas” and as an enthusiastic “teacher, mentor and advisor to several generations of evaluation researchers,” according to Douglas Besharov, chair of the selection committee.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 10/11/12