Dr. Porter served as dean of the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education from 2007-2014. He began his academic career on the faculty at Michigan State University (1967-1988), where he co-directed the Institute for Research on Teaching and served as associate dean for Research and Graduate Study. During this time, he also took three years’ leave from MSU to serve as a visiting scholar at the National Institute of Education, where he created and was first chief of the Methodology and Measurement Division and later associate director in charge of the Basic Skills Group.
From 1988 to 2003, he served as Anderson-Bascon professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he directed the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. In 2003, he joined the faculty of Vanderbilt University, where he was the Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations in the Peabody College of Education and Human Development and served as director of the university’s Learning Sciences Institute.
Dr. Porter is a former president of the American Educational Research Association (2001) and was elected a member of the National Academy of Education in 1994, where he has been vice president since 2005. He is a Lifetime National Associate of the National Academies.