UCI’s Rubén Rumbaut elected to National Academy of Education

Sociologist honored for research on education and immigrant populations

Irvine, Calif., Feb. 19, 2013 – Rubén G. Rumbaut, UC Irvine professor of sociology, has been elected to the National Academy of Education. He’s one of 12 new members admitted this year for outstanding contributions in educational research and policy development.

“Professor Rumbaut’s insightful work on the critical role of education in creating an accomplished and diverse populace has key lessons for educators and policymakers,” said Barbara Dosher, dean of UC Irvine’s School of Social Sciences and professor of cognitive sciences. “We are delighted to see his work recognized by this important honor.”

Rumbaut is internationally known and widely cited for his research on children and young adults raised in immigrant families of diverse nationalities and socioeconomic classes. He has authored, co-authored or edited numerous publications on the topic, including 14 books – with two more forthcoming. Rumbaut earned two best-book awards from the American Sociological Association and, as a National Academy of Sciences panel member, contributed to two authoritative volumes on the U.S. Hispanic population.

“In his groundbreaking research, Professor Rumbaut identified two essential themes: The first is the important roles of families and schools in supporting the successful transition of the children of immigrants, and the second is the wide variations in adaptation across different national groups,” said Deborah Vandell, dean of UC Irvine’s School of Education, where Rumbaut holds an affiliate appointment. “His findings are highly relevant for our efforts in schools and communities to improve educational achievement in this large group of young people.”

Rumbaut mines data from large projects he has directed since the 1980s, including two studies of refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos and how their children fared in San Diego public schools. Subsequent efforts looked at the educational achievement of immigrant students and language minorities throughout California.

Since 1991, Rumbaut has co-led the landmark Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study, following subjects from dozens of nationalities in South Florida and Southern California as they become adults. From 2002 to 2008, he co-directed the Immigration & Intergenerational Mobility in Metropolitan Los Angeles study, which focused on 1.5- and second-generation young adults of Mexican, Salvadoran, Guatemalan, Filipino, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and additional ethnic origins, compared with third-generation peers. Numerous follow-ups by Rumbaut and others have been based on this research.

He’s currently studying youth populations with roots in Ameca, Mexico, to see how they differ in educational status and transition to adulthood. Coming of age between 2008 and 2012, some stayed in their hometown and some either immigrated to California or had been born here to immigrant parents from Ameca. The study also factors in whether the young people are undocumented or documented immigrants or U.S. citizens.

“Rumbaut’s analyses underscore the importance of not only parents’ educational background and legal status but also community characteristics, early school achievement and acculturation, along with adverse events such as incarceration and teenage childbearing,” said David Frank, professor and chair of sociology at UC Irvine. “His studies have transformed our understanding of the immigrant experience.”

His research has been supported by the Russell Sage Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, National Science Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, and National Institute of Child Health & Human Development.

Rumbaut is a frequent keynote speaker at international conferences and is consulted regularly on immigration by national media. He has been a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation and a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.

A native of Havana, Rumbaut earned a bachelor’s in sociology-anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s and doctorate in sociology at Brandeis University. He taught at UC San Diego, San Diego State University and Michigan State University before coming to UC Irvine in 2002.

Rumbaut is the second UC Irvine faculty member to be elected to the National Academy of Education, joining Greg Duncan, Distinguished Professor of education. Another academy member, Jacquelynne Eccles, will join UC Irvine’s School of Education this fall.

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