Dr. David K. Dirlam Appointed Coordinator of Institutional Research and Assessment at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Dr. David K. Dirlam Appointed Coordinator of Institutional Research and Assessment at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

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Friday, August 14, 2009


    Rabbi David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), has announced the appointment of Dr. David K. Dirlam to the new position of Coordinator of Institutional Research and Assessment.  Dr. Dirlam has a rich and impressive record in the area of institutional research, is widely published, and has developed his own interview techniques for assessment. Most recently he has served as Senior Assessment Coordinator at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

    Rabbi Ellenson said "We welcome Dr. Dirlam's expertise and experience in institutional research and assessment, which will help advance our mission of academic excellence as an integrated, single institution with four campuses."

    Dr. Dirlam stated "My aim is to lead the development of evidence-based higher education, by helping programs, analyze, and plan assessment research."

    Dr. Michael Marmur, Vice President of Academic Affairs explained that "despite considerable economic challenges, we have created this new position as part of our commitment to creating a culture of evidence across HUC-JIR.  This strengthens our efforts in the area of compliance and education, and speaks to a more profound goal - to make significant decisions based on good data to deepen the teaching and learning in our institution."

    Dr. Dirlam studied at Northwestern University (B.A, psychology) and McMaster University (M.A. and Ph. D., physiological, developmental and mathematical models of perception). His early work aimed to create a universal behavioral coding system. The first decade focused on applying the mathematics of organization to create efficient and powerful organizing systems. Next, the organizing systems were used to study drawing and writing development, the latter resulting in New York's pioneering natural language writing competency test-the origin of assessment rubrics now used around the world.

    The rubrics led to Dr. Dirlam's discovery that a generalization of ecology's law of succession applies to historical and personal development as well as ecosystems. The work on historical development was done with his students at a small Appalachian college. The culture of research on the mind that he created with them culminated in their receiving the Association of Psychological Science's award of Student Caucus Chapter of the Year in 1997, the first four-year college ever to receive the award.

    That same year, Dr. Dirlam's work on the law of succession resulted in him receiving scientific psychology's prestigious Cattell Fund Fellowship for a year's study at UCSD's Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition. There, he developed the implications of his earlier findings for assessment and cultural development, which included the developmental interview process and a keyword network method for analyzing text.

    Recently, he used developmental interviews of experts to create coding systems for many areas of expertise. At the Savannah College of Art and Design over 80 faculty interviews resulted in the creation of developmental rubrics for two dozen art and design disciplines. The keyword network analysis not only made collaborative rubrics possible, it also provided a comprehensive, developmental theory of design methodology and his Integrated Theory of Expertise Assessment.

    Dr. Dirlam is Chair of the Public Worship Committee of the third oldest Jewish congregation in the United States (Temple Mickve Israel in Savannah), where he frequently supports the service with singing, flute playing, and Torah chanting. He and his wife Annette are looking forward to moving to Cincinnati.

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu