An Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and professor of education, Carla O’Connor has been a member of the University of Michigan faculty for 21 years. She has also served as the associate dean for academic affairs for the School of Education.
Her disciplinary emphasis is sociology of education with expertise in the areas of African-American achievement, urban education, and ethnographic methods.
O’Connor’s work includes examinations of how black identity is differentially constructed across multiple contexts and influences educational outcomes; how black people’s perceptions of opportunity vary within and across social space and shape academic orientation; how black educational resilience and vulnerability is structured by social, institutional and historical forces; and how the organization and culture of school’s influence students’ social and academic identities and outcomes.
Her work has appeared in the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Researcher, Sociology of Education, Review of Research in Education, Teaching and Teacher Education, and Ethnic and Racial Studies.
She also co-edited the book “Beyond Acting White: Reframing the Debate on Black Student Achievement” and has contributed to multiple handbooks and edited volumes that contend with issues of educational inequality and access.
A founding member of the National Science Foundation-sponsored Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context, O’Connor also has professional affiliations with the American Educational Research Association, American Sociological Association and Association of Black Sociologists.
She has received numerous awards and honors for her work in diversity, mentorship and education, including U-M’s Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award.
O’Connor received a Master of Arts degree and Ph.D. in education from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Wesleyan University.