Madison — The University of Wisconsin System’s chief academic officer has been named assistant director of Education and Human Resources at the National Science Foundation (NSF), UW System President Kevin P. Reilly announced Friday.
Cora B. Marrett, UW System senior vice president for academic affairs, will lead the NSF’s mission to achieve excellence in U.S. science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.
“The National Science Foundation is gaining a talented and dedicated leader in Dr. Cora Marrett,” Reilly said. “The UW System will miss Cora’s hard work and insights as we continue to support and improve education across the state’s public university system, but Dr. Marrett is uniquely qualified for this new opportunity, and we wish her well in her national role.”
Marrett’s six-year service as senior vice president for academic affairs will conclude in December. Her NSF position in Arlington, Va., will be in conjunction with the UW-Madison Department of Sociology, where she will remain a tenured faculty member.
“I have benefited greatly from the opportunities I have had to work with outstanding individuals in UW System Administration and beyond,” Marrett said. “I expect to draw upon my University of Wisconsin experiences in finding ways for U.S. citizens to access the science and engineering tools our nation needs for a healthy, prosperous and secure society.”
In 2005, Marrett received the Erich Bloch Distinguished Service Award from the Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) Network, given annually to an individual who has made singular contributions to the advancement of science and to the participation of groups underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Prior to her appointment at the UW System, Marrett served as senior vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst for four years. Marrett was a member of the UW-Madison faculty from 1974 to 1997, with appointments in two departments: Sociology and Afro-American Studies. She advanced from associate professor to full professor and was associate chairperson of the Department of Sociology (1988-91), and was affiliated with the Energy Analysis and Policy Program and the Wisconsin Center for Education Research.
“Dr. Marrett has a stellar record of both research and teaching excellence,” said Dr. Pamela Oliver, chair of the UW-Madison Department of Sociology. “We’re thrilled to have her as a tenured member of our faculty. Her assignment at NSF is good for NSF, and good for Wisconsin.”
During 1992-96, she served at the National Science Foundation as the first assistant director for the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences. She received the NSF’s Distinguished Service Award for her leadership in developing new research programs and articulating the scientific projects of the directorate. During 1990-92, she held a half-time appointment while serving as director of two programs for the United Negro College Fund under a $2.4 million grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation. During 1976-77, Marrett was on leave as a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in California.
Prior to her appointment at UW-Madison, Marrett was an assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina (1968-69) and an assistant/associate professor of sociology at Western Michigan University (1969-74). During 1973-74, she was a senior policy fellow at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.
Her academic background includes a B.A. degree from Virginia Union University (1963), and M.A. (1965) and Ph.D. (1968) degrees from UW-Madison, all in sociology. She received an honorary doctorate from Wake Forest University in 1996, and was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1998 and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1996. She has published widely in the field of sociology, and has held a variety of public and professional service positions.