Yesterday's resignation by Graduate School of Education Dean Patricia A. Graham was the latest in a series of administrative turnovers that may create a new generation of leaders at the University's helm. When she leaves, Graham will be the sixth major Harvard official to step down in a period of three years.
Observers say that outgoing President Derek C. Bok will probably appoint an acting dean to replace Graham and allow his successor to appoint the permanent replacement.
The new opening at the Ed School may be the next president's first opportunity to appoint a graduate school dean. And observers say that the changing role of education schools will make the appointment one of the president's priorities.
"It's one of the top things on any president's agenda," says Ford Professor of Social Sciences Emeritus David Riesman '31, who is writing a book on presidential search processes.
Recently, major universities across the country have realized that many of the problems of higher education actually have their roots in secondary and primary education, he says.
"Higher education is more and more concerned both for its own sake and for the sake of the country," he says. As a result, university presidents are paying more attention to their graduate education schools.
Harvard's search committee has stressed that the new president should take a leadership role in emphasizing the need for better primary education. The Ed School, many say, should play a major role in reform efforts in the teaching profession.
The University is already in a stage of transition, and the appointment of a new dean at the Ed school will be a another significant step towards the shaping of Harvard's new administrative outlook.
Already high on the next president's agenda is the selection of a new dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and possibly the appointment of a provost or some sort of University-wide academic officer.
In addition, Radcliffe College appointed a new president less than two years ago. And two of Harvard's most prestigious graduate schools--the Law School and the Kennedy School of Government--have recently named new deans.