Co-Director, Center for Character and Citizenship, UMSL
Melinda C. Bier PhD. is Co-Director for the Center for Character and Citizenship (CCC), College of Education, University of Missouri, St. Louis. Bier’s experience spans the fields of Character Education, teacher and leader preparation and professional development, and the design and use of instructional technology for enhanced teaching and learning. She has expertise in program evaluation, the design and adoption of K-12 educational innovations particularly in underserved schools and communities, developing and managing professional development for teachers and school leaders, and in the philanthropic sector.
Bier is the Principal Investigator for several grants focused on developing and testing servant leadership oriented professional development for pre and in service school administrators. Funded by the John Templeton Foundation, Bier’s research team is investigating whether a specific set of servant leadership virtues can be increased through substantive professional development called Cultivating Virtue I Leaders (CViL). With co-PI, Marvin W Berkowitz, and funded by the Kern family Foundation, Bier is developing and testing servant leadership oriented training and mentoring for deep understanding and implementation of character education in K-12 schools and Colleges of Education. Bier and Berkowitz are also co-authors of an on-going series of scientific literature reviews supporting the development of character in school age students.
Bier is the Principal Investigator for a series of cross-disciplinary service-learning projects that address the social determinants of academic and health disparities called Youth Empowerment in Action (YEA!). Funded by the Missouri Foundation for Health and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, these projects all involve assessing the impact of interventions that combined media literacy and production, Youth-led Participatory Action Research (YPAR) and social marketing, and policy analysis and advocacy to achieve student and community outcomes including health, character, and academic achievement.
Prior to coming to UMSL Bier served as Program Officer with the James S. McDonnell Foundation where she administered the Cognitive Science in the Classroom Program, reviewed scientific research proposals, and investigated ways in which not-for-profit and philanthropic organizations could more efficiently collaborate to achieve their goals. As Associate Director of the Space Coast Center for Excellence was responsible for the daily operations of the Florida Department of Education’s regional professional development and resource center, interpreting, disseminating, and supporting the implementation of both traditional and alternative methods of assessment and evaluation, disseminating state standards, and coordinating teacher workshops and curriculum development.
Bier’s research investigating the ways in which low-income families could make use of digital technology to strengthen the school-home-community connection won an NSF Award and was highlighted in scholarly publications including Nature and The Scientist as well as in popular media such as USA Today, NPR and local newspapers. She has been an advisor to the American Association for the Advancement of Science and NSF on issues related to ethics in cyberspace and the use of human subjects in educational research. Bier’s work has included consulting to Mathematica Policy Research on the Social and Character Development cross-site evaluation funded by IES; consulting to Caliber Associates on USDE Character Education and Civic Engagement Center; and directing the USDE funded Character Education Partnership’s National Character Education Clearinghouse.