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J. Bradley Cousins, FCES

May 2017

One new fellow has joined the ranks of the Canadian Evaluation Society Fellowship: Dr. J. Bradley Cousins. Here are transcripts of his introduction and acceptance speech.

Introduction Speech by Robert Lahey

If Evaluators had Rock Stars, our newest inductee would be entering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Dr. J. Bradley Cousins (or Brad Cousins as many of us know him) has made a significant and outstanding contribution over many years to the field of evaluation – to the evaluation profession, the professional association, and to the community at large.

Brad has been based at the University of Ottawa for the past two decades where he has taught evaluation in the Faculty of Education and, as of 2017 is a Professor Emeritus.

His interests and contribution to program evaluation include: participatory and collaborative approaches; utilization issues; and, evaluation capacity building (ECB). He has researched and written extensively on these issues to the point that his list of publications, journal articles, chapters and books is so long that it was necessary to reduce the font size on his CV so that it would not exceed the 15-page limit of the Fellows submission process.

He has been recognized by his peers for this contribution to Evaluation theory and practice, having received: the CES Contribution to Evaluation Award (1998); the American Evaluation Association Contribution to Evaluation Theory Award (2008); and, the American Educational Research Association Award for ‘Distinguished Scholar’ (2012). It is worth noting that Brad is the only Canadian evaluator (and one of very few international evaluators) to be identified in Marv Alkin’s ‘Evaluation Theory Tree’ – an identification of the key contributors who helped shape the roots of evaluation and evaluation theory.

Brad’s contribution to CES and the professional Evaluation community has been significant and, among other things, includes being a long-time editor of the Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation (2002-2010); associate editor of New Directions for Evaluation; and co-chair of the joint CES/AEA international conference in 2005, along with Michael Patton. And, who could forget the competitive fire that burned in his belly as he led Student Teams from the University of Ottawa to the Student Case Competition – winning it in 2010.

I have gotten to know Brad better over the last 15-20 years and two things stand out for me in thinking of how well he would serve the CES Fellowship: First, he seeks out opportunities, and then follows through in making things happen. We could call him a ‘change agent’. Being one of the driving forces behind the introduction of the Graduate Diploma program in Program Evaluation and the creation of the Centre for Research on Educational and Community Services (CRECS), both at the University of Ottawa, are two examples of this. CRECS helped create a broad network among university professors and served as a vehicle to integrate students in research and other learning activities. This links in with the second reason why I believe that Brad will be an outstanding addition to the Fellowship - His work in mentoring and guiding students and emerging evaluators has been exemplary, as I have seen significant opportunities that have been created for graduate students to play meaningful roles in research projects, present papers at national and international conferences and co-author peer-reviewed journal articles. Indeed, a number of his former students and other colleagues will be discussing some of this collective work in a session immediately following the luncheon.

Please join me in welcoming the newest Fellow of the CES, Brad Cousins.

Acceptance Speech

Bonjour,. Il me fait vraiment plaisir d’être ici pour accepter cette nomination. There are many reasons why I am spectacularly proud to assume the role of Fellow of the Canadian Evaluation Society, but there are three that leap to mind at this moment.

Number 1. It is always gratifying to be recognized by peers. Thank you to Bob Lahey and others involved in compiling the nomination dossier, clandestine at first. (My lovely wife Danielle knew of this long before I did.) As an academic I am absolutely thrilled to receive recognition in predominantly non-academic contexts; I am humbled to be recognized by my evaluation practice-based colleagues.

Number 2. The nomination is grounded in recognition of contributions over time. I’ve had many roles in evaluation including practitioner, instructor, capacity builder, journal editor and contributor to theory. But if you asked me, I would immediately self-identify as a researcher, a producer of research on evaluation.

Through my training in psychology and education I’ve developed the strong commitment to empiricism. In the 1950s Kurt Lewin argued that ‘there is nothing so practical as a good theory’; more recently, Donald Schon turned that upside down and made the case, ‘there is nothing so theoretical as good practice.’  I believe that both perspectives have merit although I suppose I lean toward Schon’s end of the spectrum. There is so much to be learned from expert evaluation practitioners.

Regardless, in my mind, research on evaluation is the bridge between theory and practice, the key to advancing knowledge in our field. Compared with other practical domains (education, management studies, social work) in evaluation empirical research (whether done by academics, practicing evaluators or collaboratively) is relatively thin and within our own Canadian evaluation community this is certainly the case; and this despite the fact that evaluators are by definition empiricists.  I am thus heartened by the implicit recognition of merit in research on evaluation by CES and I am optimistic of continued growth in this area in the short and that long term.

Number 3. I am proud to share this recognition with my students. From them I have derived inestimable inspiration, wisdom, gratification and pride. I’ve had many students, present and past (I still have five ph.d. students at uOttawa even though I am no longer on the payroll!), over the years including 18 thesis students working on evaluation-related topics. Today, many are practicing evaluators, four are professors teaching and researching evaluation and one is the editor-in-chief of an internationally renowned peer-reviewed evaluation journal (CJPE). If I had a glass I would raise it now to my students; they make me so proud.

Encore merci pour ce merveilleux honneur!