Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Photo of Rita O'Sullivan

O'Sullivan, Rita

Associate Professor of Educational Assessment and Evaluation

T: 919.843.8165
F: 919.843.2614
201B Peabody Hall
CB 3500

“A definition of success: to laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a better child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson


Rita O’Sullivan teaches program evaluation, case study methods, research design, qualitative methods, measurement and statistics. As executive director of Evaluation, Assessment and Policy Connections (EvAP), she works with graduate students, providing program evaluation assistance and training for local, state, national and international organizations.

She has traveled to Puerto Rico (2009), U.S. Virgin Islands (2008), Southern Sudan (2006), Kazakhstan (2005), Guinea (2004), Brazil (2003), Siberia (2002), Durban (2002) and Barbados (2001) to work with evaluators from governmental and nonprofit organizations in the areas of education, health, social work, auditing, government service, agriculture and environmental protection. In 2009, she traveled around the world as a member of the Semester at Sea faculty.

O’Sullivan specializes in developing collaborative evaluation techniques that enhance evaluation capacity and utilization among educators and public service providers. Much of her scholarly work has investigated ways to promote and conduct these evaluations. Since entering academia in 1984, she has conducted more than 100 evaluation projects, specializing in multi-site collaborative evaluation approaches in the areas of education, community development and family support programs.

Her current vision of collaborative evaluation has evolved from these years of field experience. Throughout this development, she has shared her research efforts in four of the six premier refereed journals in evaluation.

Conducting evaluations has provided O’Sullivan with an essential laboratory to develop a distinct evaluation approach, called “collaborative evaluation.” The development of this approach has culminated in a book published by Sage Publications titled Practicing Evaluation: A Collaborative Approach (2004).


Educational Background

  • Ed.D. 1984 - Auburn University, Educational Leadership and Curriculum & Instruction
  • M.A. 1976 - California Polytechnic State University, Educational Administration
  • A.B. 1971 - University of California Berkeley, Anthropology

Doctoral Program Affiliation(s)

Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction

Research Interests

  • Collaborative Evaluation

Teaching Areas

  • Educational Research
  • Assessment


  • EDUC 678: Seminar in Educational Studies
  • EDUC 680: Introduction to Educational Research
  • EDUC 709: Seminar in Applied Investigations
  • EDUC 883: Case Study Methods
  • EDUC 885: Secondary Data Analysis

Honors & Awards

  • Ingle Distinguished Service Award, American Evaluation Association, (2002)
  • Outstanding Research Award, North Carolina Association for Research in Education: O’Sullivan, R. G., & Germuth, A. A. (2001), Assessing kindergarten readiness: The importance of a comprehensive sampling frame
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, North Carolina Association for Research in Education, (2001)
  • American Evaluation Association Plaque for Service as Secretary/Treasurer from 1992-97 (1998)

Funded Research

  • Evaluation of NC Department of Public instruction’s Learn & Serve American Initiative (2007-2009). $59,539.76
  • NWD HRSA Grant through UNC-CH School of Nursing. (2008). $6,000.
    Evaluation of Morehead Planetarium Science 360 Program, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2007-2009). $33,000
  • Evaluation of R.O.B.O.T.S. (Opportunities For Building Outstanding Talent In The Sciences), NSF-MSEN (2006-2009). $75,000.00
  • Evaluation of Project Quest, Wake County Public School System Magnet Programs Department (2005-2008). $59,843
  • Evaluation of Curriculum Development: Transforming Introductory Physics Education at UNC-CH, Physics Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, National Science Foundation (2005-2008). $30,000

Selected Professional Affiliations

  • American Evaluation Association
  • American Educational Research Association
  • National Council on Measurement in Education
  • North Carolina Association for Research in Education

Selected Publications

Books & Monographs

Kuzmin, A., O’Sullivan, R. G., & Kosheleva, N. (Eds.) (2009). Program Evaluation: Methodology and Practice. Moscow, Russia: Presto-RK.

O’Sullivan, R., Jay, M., Powers, E., Hudson, M., Anderson, A., Blow, C. & Penta M.  (2006). Instruction Manual for Evaluation K-12 International Outreach Programs. Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Center for Global Initiatives.

Book Chapters

O’Sullivan, R. G. (in press) Collaborative Evaluation. In M. Segone (Ed.) From Policies to Results. The Role of Country-Led Management & Evaluation Systems in Overcoming the Implementation Challenge. Geneva, Switzerland: UNICEF.

O’Sullivan, R. G. (2009). Collaborative Evaluation.  In A. Kuzmin, R. G. O’Sullivan, & N. Kosheleva, (Eds.). Program Evaluation: Methodology and Practice. Moscow, Russia: Presto-RK.

Journal Articles

O’Sullivan, R. G. (manuscript).  Collaborative Evaluation within a Framework of Participant-Oriented Evaluation Approaches. Evaluation and Program Planning.

R. G., Jay, M., Power Costello, B. (manuscript). Focus group transcriptions: Always necessary? Canadian Journal of Evaluation.
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