Education School Dean Ryan to Depart for UVA

Education School Dean James E. Ryan will depart Harvard to become the president of the University of Virginia at the end of the academic year.
James E. Ryan, the Dean of the Graduate School of Education, will depart the school to become the president of the University of Virginia after this academic year.

UVA announced Friday that the school’s Board of Visitors had unanimously approved Ryan’s appointment, effective October 1, 2018. Ryan, a graduate of UVA’s law school and former UVA law professor, will succeed Teresa A. Sullivan, the university’s first woman president.

Ryan, writing to affiliates of the Ed School to announce his departure, said it will be “difficult” to leave the school.

“I was an outsider to this institution when I arrived in 2013, but you quickly made me feel welcome,” he wrote. “The sense of mission, the dedication and talent, and the care and compassion that abound on Appian Way make this a remarkable community, and it has been one of the great privileges of my professional life to be a part of it.”

During his four-year tenure, Ryan steered the Ed School—one of Harvard’s smaller graduate schools—through the University’s most ambitious fundraising drive yet. At Ed School, the goal was set at $250 million. As of September, the school has raised a total of $278 million, with just less than a year remaining in the drive.


Ryan also expanded professional development and teacher-training courses at the Ed School, including an initiative that trains seniors at the College to become teachers. Under his leadership, the school also hired 17 new faculty members and added 12 more to the senior ranks.

Ryan’s departure sets up a search for a new dean that will run concurrently with the search for University President Drew G. Faust’s successor. According to Faust, the Ed School search will commence shortly, and the University will solicit advice from Ed School affiliates.

“Harvard will miss his thoughtful and compassionate leadership, and I will miss Jim’s voice, wisdom, and humor as a member of the Council of Deans and a leader here on campus,” Faust wrote in a statement.

—Staff writer Brandon J. Dixon can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @BrandonJoDixon.