For GSE, Two Heads are Better than One

Contrary to popular belief, Harvard Graduate School of Education (GSE) Professors Judith D. Singer and John B. Willett are not the same person.

The two professors share the same office, the same filing cabinet, a single to-do list and almost include the other in their e-mail correspondence. Longtime co-researchers, the scholars even conduct phone calls together and, since Labor Day, share the position of academic dean at the GSE.

All in all, Singer and Willett have closely cooperated on their work ever since they were hired--together--in 1985.


"Early on they discovered that one plus one added up to more than two," Dean of the Faculty of Education Jerome T. Murphy said.

"From the beginning of their work at the school, they collaborated and they agreed not to compete," Professor of Education with Tenure Susan M. Johnson said.

Johnson, the former academic dean, stepped down last summer to spend more time on her research. Murphy said she recommended that the pair combine to take her place, although sharing deanships is not a common Harvard practice.

The fruits of Singer and Willett's partnership include several awards, two books, and numerous articles on statistical methodology, research design and education policy.

Singer and Willett said they recognize the unusual nature of their working relationship.

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