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Harvard Graduate School affiliates praised Bridget Terry Long’s six-year tenure helming the school following a Jan. 18 announcement that she would step down at the end of the academic year.
HGSE Academic Dean Martin R. West highlighted Long’s greatest achievements during her time as dean, pointing to the implementation of a redesigned residential master’s program, creation of the school’s first ever core curriculum, and success in raising funds for need-based financial aid.
In particular, West emphasized Long’s “outstanding judgment and an ability to make hard decisions in a way that’s informed by our values as a school.”
Harvard Graduate Council Representative Marc R. Claude, a HGSE student, elaborated on Long’s redesign of the master’s program, which allows students to specialize in one of five distinct career-focused tracks. The plan also established an online master’s program to aid in navigating the pandemic.
Claude praised Long for her fundraising efforts, highlighting the record-breaking $230 million in funding she raised for HGSE, $80 million of which went specifically towards student aid.
“She accomplished a lot of things during her tenure, and whoever will be replacing her after that will have big shoes to fill,” Claude said.
Students also attested to Long’s success in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion within HGSE faculty and curricula.
Luis E. Gaitan, a student at HGSE, expressed appreciation for Long’s ability to make every student feel at home, regardless of background or identity.
“I’ve spent seventeen years in this country, and I never really felt like I belonged anywhere. I never felt like my culture fit in with American culture, until I came to the Graduate School of Education,” he said.
HGSE student Qingqing Zhang highlighted Long’s ability to foster an environment where students can “unite easier with each other’s strengths and the ability to collaborate together.”
Lisa M. Cenca, a HGSE doctoral student, said she thought the timing of Long’s resignation was significant in the context of former President Claudine Gay’s resignation last month following months of sustained criticism.
Long “said that it’s separate, and that she was planning this, and I honor that,” Cenca said. “But I think there is something powerful about her stepping down at this time, sort of an allegiance.”
“I just feel that this is a crucial moment in time for us to be honoring and looking carefully at the amazing work that women, especially women of color, have added to this university,” Cenca added.
In her message to HGSE affiliates announcing her decision to step down, Long wrote that the timing of her decision was “unconnected to the current events surrounding Harvard and its presidential transition.”
—Staff writer Katie B. Tian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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