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Shane Connelly Named Director of New Institute for Society and Community Transformation

September 8, 2021

Shane Connelly Named Director of New Institute for Society and Community Transformation

Shane Connelly
Shane Connelly

Shane Connelly, a professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma, has been named the inaugural director of the university’s Institute for Society and Community Transformation. The appointment is effective Oct. 1.

“As a member of the faculty strategic planning working group, Shane has played an integral role in developing the institute’s vision to transform communities and societies,” said Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, vice president for research and partnerships. “In her own personal research, Shane has the national standard for convergent, community-engaged research and creative activities. It is hard to envision a better inaugural leader for our newest university-wide institute.”

The creation of the institute resulted from a collaborative planning effort supporting pillar 5 of the Lead On, University strategic plan. Society and community transformation is one of four strategic research verticals identified in the plan that represent areas of strength at the university and opportunities for growth.

“ISCT will serve as a convener for faculty across all OU campuses and a vehicle to incentivize and facilitate processes that reduce inequity and forge new pathways toward positive societal transformation, advancing health and well-being, social justice, arts and humanities, education, and technological and workforce adaptations,” Connelly said.

The institute will primarily address challenges in three broad areas, she said, “advancing equity and opportunity, particularly in the areas of health and education; understanding and addressing social and ethical challenges associated with technological advances and how they are integrated into workplaces, schools and daily life; and partnering with Native Nations to strengthen cultural continuance and sovereignty.”

Georgia Kosmopoulou, associate dean for research and the Edith Kinney Gaylord Presidential Professor of Economics in the College of Arts and Sciences, served as the faculty lead in developing the Society and Community Transformation research focus for the Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships, and led the hiring search committee for the institute’s director.

“Shane and I have worked closely together in the ideation process for the ISCT,” Kosmopoulou said. “She is a nationally recognized visionary leader, working tirelessly to shape research priorities for the institute. Her interdisciplinary, convergence research approach ensures that the ISCT will be at the forefront of national strategic investment, maximizing the impact of research engagement for our scientific community.”  

The institute aims to facilitate research that bridges disciplines and builds partnerships with organizations beyond the university to better connect academic expertise with those who can benefit from the research.

“Dealing with the types of challenges our communities and societies face today really requires consideration of human behavior in all of its complexity,” Connelly said. “We must consider not only individuals, but the larger groups, organizations, cultures and social systems in which they are embedded. ISCT will encourage faculty to bring forward their unique expertise and make the institute’s vision a reality.”

Connelly joined OU in 1999. She is an industrial/organizational (I/O) psychologist who has conducted basic and applied research projects related to the effectiveness and ethical functioning of leaders and employees in the workplace. She is a founding board member and the associate director of OU’s Center for Applied Social Research.

“Shane is a distinguished professor in the Department of Psychology with many years of experience and contributions to the department, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the university,” said Jorge Mendoza, interim chair of the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences. “Over the years, she has established a strong record of scholarly achievements, federal research grants, and mentorship of doctoral candidates.”

“An outstanding mentor and teacher, Connelly has published over 100 articles, book chapters, and has received over $10 million in research grants from agencies, including the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health,” he added. “We are very proud of her promotion and accomplishments.”

Connelly additionally serves on many editorial boards of journals including, The Leadership Quarterly, Frontiers in Psychology and Human Performance. She is a member of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, the Academy of Management, and a fellow of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. 

Prior to joining OU, she held roles as a project director and research scientist with the American Institutes for Research where she collaborated with several federal agencies on workplace interventions. She has also served as a personnel psychologist with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. She has a doctorate and master’s degree from George Mason University and a bachelor’s degree from Loyola College.

David Wrobel, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said, “We are enormously proud…and thrilled that she is taking on this new leadership role with the Institute for Society and Community Transformation in the Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships.”