Harvard Profs Tapped To Join Mass. Board of Higher Ed.

Barron, Reimers will look to strengthening community colleges and increasing ease of transferability.

UPDATED: March 8, 2012, at 3:08 a.m.

Two Harvard professors will serve on the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick ’78 announced on Monday.

Graduate School of Education professor Fernando M. Reimers and Law School professor David J. Barron ’89 will join the Board, which is charged with defining the mission and overseeing the operation of Massachusetts’ system of public higher education, according to the Department of Higher Education’s website.

“David and Fernando both understand the critical role higher education plays in preparing our students to succeed in the 21st century global economy,” Patrick said in a release. “They will bring diversity and depth of experience to the board to ensure every student in Massachusetts has access to a world-class, affordable higher education.”

Both professors said that they will bring the perspectives of their academic expertise to their work on the Board.

Reimers’ current research focuses on educational innovation and the impact of policy, leadership, and teacher professional development on student outcomes.

“I’ve always been interested in public service and have had a number of engagements with education,” Reimers said. “When the governor’s office invited me to serve in this capacity, I was extremely pleased. It’s an honor to help improve our state’s institutions.”

Barron focuses his work on state and local government law.

“I think this is an incredibly important time in higher education in Massachusetts,” said Barron. “These institutions will play a role in preparing our residents for a future that increasingly depends on having high-quality and affordable higher education.”

Barron and Reimers both said that strengthening community colleges and facilitating integration of schools across the system would become important issues for the Board going forward.

For example, Reimers said that Massachusetts should move towards a system like California’s, which facilitates students’ ability to transfer between schools.

“If you begin in a community college and transition to another institution, a lot of your work will be recognized,” Reimer said. “It doesn’t function like that yet in Massachusetts, but we are moving in that direction.”

Barron and Reimers will serve as two of the eleven voting members of the Board, which also has two non-voting student advisors. In addition to general advocacy on behalf of the institutions, the Board of Higher Education’s duties include academic policy program approval, financial aid, fiscal planning, research, and workforce development.

“As a citizen of Harvard University, I think we have a special obligation to the many communities of which the University is a part,” Reimers said. “Universities can be engines of social and economic innovation, and they improve lives in the communities of which they are a part.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: March 9

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that neither Fernando M. Reimers nor David J. Barron '89 has yet been sworn in to the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. In fact, Barron has already been sworn in.

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