Dean of the Graduate School of Education Patricia A. Graham surprised many education professors at Harvard and elsewhere when she announced her resignation last week.
Her successor, professors say, will face dual challenges. First, a new dean will need to continue Graham's precedent of innovation and development. And in doing so, he or she must struggle to gain greater University support for one of Harvard's least-known and least-wealthy graduate schools.
Graham, who will remain at Harvard as a part-time professor, will also assume the presidency of the Spenser Foundation, a Chicago-based research institution that provides $8 to $10 million in education-related grants per year. The job is recognized as one of the nation's most influential education positions.
But Graham is no stranger to influential positions. Education leaders say that Graham's nine years here have made a definite impact, not only on the School of Education, but also on national trends in education. Colleagues have praised Graham's ability to fuse research and practice in the field of education, as well as her initiative in shifting the Education School's focus back to the classroom.
Administrative Dean Joel C. Monnell praises Graham for "getting the school of education back closer to what's going on in the schools."
Graham's colleagues are quick to cite her accomplishments, which include: strengthening the school's senior faculty by securing the tenure of nine professors, including Sara Lawrence Lightfoot, Carol Gilligan and Howard E. Gardner.
In addition, Graham developed a number of training programs, many of them unique to the School of Education. The Undergraduate Teacher Education Program (UTEP), allows undergraduates to earn Massachusetts State Teacher's Certification while working towards their bachelor's degrees.
She also created the Urban Superintendent's program--a three-year doctoral training program which works to fill positions in city school systems. And her innovative Mid-Career Math and Science program helps career scientists make the transition into public school teaching.
"That's going to be a very important development throughout the nation during the next 10 years," Columbia University School for Teachers President Michael Timpane said of the Mid-Career program last week.
The same can be said of many of Graham's initiatives. Under Graham's tutelage, the Ed School has risen in stature and has come to be recognized as one of the nation's leading education institutions.
"She made Harvard a national center in the development of educational leadership for the coming decade," Timpane said last week.
The Education School's national reputation however, does not parallel its prestige within the University. The School of Education is often forced to take a back seat to higher-profile graduate schools, such as the Law School, the Medical School and the Kennedy School of Government.
Professor of Education Nathan Glazer last week called the Education School "a school that has a low profile and low prestige at Harvard."
Graham worked during her tenure to dispel that image, and met with some success.
"One of the legacies Pat Graham has left is her ability to bring to the attention of the University as a whole the contributions of the school of education, and the need of the school of education for broader support," says Academic Dean Catherine E. Snow.