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Letter Regarding Dean Lagemann

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

As she announced earlier today, Ellen Lagemann has decided to step down as dean of the Graduate School of Education at the close of this academic year and to refocus her energies on scholarship and teaching as a member of the GSE faculty.

I want to thank Ellen for the initiative, dedication, and drive that she has brought to the GSE during her time as dean. Under her guidance, the Ed School has progressed toward a core curriculum, reorganized its master’s degree programs and its academic areas, redoubled its efforts to contribute to the improvement of K-12 education, and worked to strengthen its relationships both with other Harvard schools and with the broader community of professional educators. In addition, Ellen has been a consistently constructive voice in discussions among the deans about key University priorities, including planning for Allston and for the GSE’s eventual new home there. She has indicated her desire– after a span of more than a decade in a series of senior administrative roles at NYU, the Spencer Foundation, and most recently the GSE– to devote her full-time efforts once again to her academic work as a leading historian of American education. I am pleased that we will continue to benefit from her insight and her devotion to educational improvement as a member of the GSE faculty.

We will, of course, be promptly launching a search for Ellen’s successor. I will be in touch soon about preliminary plans for the search, and will want to ensure close consultation with the GSE faculty and the wider school community. I should note that I had hoped to join the regularly scheduled faculty meeting this afternoon to express my gratitude for Ellen’s work as dean and to open a discussion about the transition, but it happens that the faculty meeting coincides precisely with the undergraduate course that I teach on Monday afternoons. In the circumstances, I have asked Provost Hyman to join you this afternoon, and we will seek to arrange a special faculty meeting soon when I can be present for further discussion.

For now, I hope that you will join me in extending appreciation to Ellen for her service to the Ed School and the University, and wishing her well both in the concluding months of her deanship and in all that lies ahead.


Lawrence H. Summers