Ylvisaker, Dean of Ed School, Leaves Post After Ten Years

Paul N. Ylvisaker, dean of the Graduate School of Education (GSE) for ten years, said yesterday he will resign his post effective June, 1982.

In announcing his resignation. Ylvisaker '59, said he believes that ten years is an "appropriate tenure" for a dean. He plans to take a one-year sabbatical leave "to catch a breather" and then return to GSE as Eliot Professor of Education.

President Bok yesterday announced he will set up an advisory committee and advertise the vacancy in professional journals, Ylvisaker said.

Ylvisaker said that during his tenure he has tried to lead the school toward a broader definition and treatment of education, promoting a concept of learning that extends beyond formal schooling to include all stages of the human life cycle.

In 1972, during the first year of Ylvisaker's term as dean, substantial reductions in grants from both the federal government and private philanthropic organizations reduced the GSE budget by one-third. Since that time, the level of outside financial support has remained low.


He also stressed the importance of television, family and the community as instruments of learning. Educational television programs such as Sesame Street and The Electric Company, as well as production outfits like the Children's Television Workshop, were all developed at the GSE and have made important contributions to modern education, he said.

Discussing the role of the GSE in society, Ylvisaker said the school had a "moral obligation" to support the public school system because it is "too vital a parrt of the American tradition, too important in the lives and hopes of our less privileged families and children, to allow them to be victimized by a political calculus that counts only the declining voting strength of parents with children still in school."

Referring to the Boston public school funding crisis. Ylvisaker called public education a "sitting duck for politicians, because they can neglect it with a fair amount of impunity."

An example of the GSE's commitment to public education under his leadership is the recent establishment of a center for school principals. The center provides training for propsective principals and serves as a resource base for technical assistance. During the last two years the center has served about 30 principals in the Boston area.

President Bok has praised Ylvisaker for not only maintaining a balanced budget but also reorganizing the faculty to "concentrate on the needs of public education at a time of wide dissatisfaction over the quality of the nation's schools."

Though Ylvisaker said he does not know whom the advisory committee will select as his successor, he said Bok might use the GSE deanship to show his support for affirmative action. "The prospects for a woman dean are fairly high," he added.


Under Ylvisaker's leadership, the GSE has attained the University's highest percentages of minorities and women, both in its faculty and in its student body.

Minorities represent 20 per cent of the tenured faculty, and 18 to 25 per cent of the student body; women represent 40 to 45 per cent of the faculty and 60 per cent of the student body, Brenda J. Wilson, senior associate dean in the faculty of education, said yesterday.

Ylvisaker said that affirmative action is "socially necessary" and that the strong commitment of the GSE faculty is reflected in their active recruitment. "The faculty has resisted the practice of hiring through the buddy system, where friends hire friends," he added.

Ylvisaker is a "warm person with an easy nature, highly respected by the faculty." Dominic C. Varisco, associate dean for development in the School of Education, said yesterday.

Ylvisaker said he hopes that the early anouncement of his retirement will provide ample time to find a new dean and "allow for a smooth transition."

After receiving his doctorate in political economy and government at Harvard, Ylvisaker went on to each at Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Swarthmore. In 1966 he chaired former president Lyndon B. Johnson's Task Force on the Cities. He served as the Ford Foundation's director of public affairs until 1967, and then became New Jersey's first Commissioner of Community Affairs before taking on the dean's job in 1972