September 13, 2018

Donaldson to be Honored for Thought Leadership and Practice of Evaluation

Evaluation award winner Stewart Donaldson
Award winner: Donaldson (pictured here at a WPA conference earlier this year) is the recipient of the AEA's 2018 Alva and Gunnar Myrdal Evaluation Practice Award.

Evaluation–the science of determining the value and impact of actions, methodologies, and projects used in almost any industry or enterprise–is a young field, and the university’s Stewart Donaldson has been there since its earliest days.

In the late 1980s, as a graduate student studying organizational behavior and evaluation research, Donaldson had a revelation in a class taught by Mark W. Lipsey, one of the foremost distinguished professors in the field of evaluation research.

Lipsey’s class, which looked at program evaluation, changed his life.

“I immediately knew in my gut that his work on theory-driven evaluation was the path I wanted to follow,” Donaldson recalled. “I knew I wanted to spend my life applying psychological science, organizational behavior, and positive organizational psychology to helping all kinds of people and organizations to thrive and flourish.”

For his devotion to evaluation and his long service in the field, Donaldson has been chosen as the recipient of the 2018 Alva and Gunnar Myrdal Evaluation Practice Award from the American Evaluation Association (AEA).

The award will be presented to Donaldson at the association’s upcoming conference, “Evaluation 2018: Speaking Truth to Power,” which begins October 29 in Cleveland.

Donaldson, according to the AEA’s award announcement, “is a major evaluation practice thought leader as well as a distinguished practitioner.” The AEA describes the award as recognizing an evaluator who exemplifies outstanding evaluation practice and who has made substantial cumulative contributions to the field of evaluation through the practice of evaluation and whose work is consistent with the AEA Guiding Principles for Evaluators.

The award is named after two ground-breaking figures, Swedish Nobel laureate Gunnar Myrdal and his wife Alva, who was a politician and diplomat.

“I am truly humbled to be recognized with this highest honor,” Donaldson said after receiving news of his selection. “I’m so grateful and appreciative of the many wonderful students, colleagues, and friends who have worked with me in the trenches of evaluation practice over the years.”

Donaldson served for many years in several deanships at the university, including his simultaneous roles as dean of the School of Social Science, Policy & Evaluation (SSSPE) and the School of Community & Global Health (SCGH).  Today he leads the university’s evaluation efforts as the executive director of the Claremont Evaluation Center and also serves as a professor of psychology and community & global health.

At a time when many organizations, especially national governments, have limited resources and must be careful how they invest them in various programs and initiatives, the need couldn’t be greater for more evaluation science, Donaldson said.

“My hope is that one day there will be enough highly-trained, skilled evaluation practitioners to form a truly global evaluation community,” he said. “Evaluation is one of the best ways to ensure that we can amplify the effects of programs and policies aimed at improving social betterment and justice around the world.”