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Theodore Ryland Sizer, 1932-2009

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Dean, 1964-1972

Theodore Ryland Sizer was appointed dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education by Harvard University President Nathan M. Pusey in March 1964. He had been a member of the faculty since 1960, teaching courses in the history of education, and heading the Master of Arts in Teaching Program.

At the start of Sizer’s deanship, HGSE had an influx of federal funds to support its programs, projects, and research initiatives; however, with the election of Richard Nixon, HGSE faced serious budget cuts as federal support fell from 57.3 percent of the total budget in 1966 to 39.8 percent in 1970. Nevertheless, the school had nearly tripled its budget by the end of Sizer’s administration despite the fiscal strains on income. By the end of his deanship, there had also been significant revisions to the curriculum as a result of the 1966 report, The Graduate Study in Education.

By the last year of his tenure, programs of study were organized into seven general divisions: Administration and Social Policy, Childhood Education, Human Development, Humanities, Learning Environments, Public Psychology, and Teaching. Sizer was able to recruit talented scholars to the faculty and expanded HGSE’s areas of research to include: higher education, lifelong learning, learning environments, law and education, children’s education, and family study. HGSE also had a stronger focus on issues related to class and race, especially research in the area of urban education. The student body also became a more diverse population with 18 percent of the students coming from minority groups in 1971. Many students became more activist-oriented as the civil rights movement raised the nation’s consciousness to inequalities in the American education system. The plans for building expansion begun under Dean Keppel saw completion during the Sizer years: Larsen Hall was dedicated in 1965 and Gutman Library in 1972.

After leaving HGSE, Ted Sizer became the twelfth headmaster of the Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. In 1983, he returned to academia becoming a faculty member and chair of Brown University’s Education Department. He founded the Coalition of Essential Schools in 1983 and became the founding director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform in 1993. Sizer returned to the HGSE faculty as a visiting professor of education in 1997.

About the Artist: Deane Keller, American, 1901–1992

The portrait of Dean Theodore Ryland Sizer was painted by Deane Keller and unveiled on June 14, 1972. Keller was a family friend of the Sizers’ and, at the time, professor emeritus of art at Yale. Objects depicted in the painting represent aspects of Sizer’s personal and professional life. The rug behind the dean is a painted representation of a real rug stitched by his father, Theodore Sizer, Sr., a professor emeritus of art history at Yale, during the first years of his son’s administration. The rug shows the coat of arms and mottos of both Harvard and Yale. Another personal touch is the inclusion of the initials “TRS” (Theodore Ryland Sizer) and “NFS” (the dean’s wife, Nancy Faust Sizer). The books displayed on the desk include Sizer’s Moral Education and his father’s authoritative work on John Trumbull.

Deane Keller was a 1926 graduate of the Yale School of Fine Arts and in 1929 was appointed instructor in painting and drawing. Keller’s teaching career was interrupted by his wartime service as a fine arts officer attached to the Fifth Army in Italy. His duties included the location and protection of art treasures, emergency restoration to war-damaged pieces, and the return to museums of art stolen by the German Army. Keller resumed his teaching career at Yale in 1946. He was a staunch supporter of traditional techniques, despite some opposing views from certain colleagues on the faculty. He retired from teaching in 1970 but remained an active artist. Throughout his life he had a second career as a portrait painter and was known as the unofficial portraitist of the Yale University faculty. Additionally, he painted official portraits of Senator Robert A. Taft and Connecticut Governor John Lodge.

Following the Dutch portrait tradition, many of Keller’s colors were of a somber tone with the sitter wearing dark-colored clothing. As in the portrait of Sizer, Keller often incorporated a coat of arms into the background. By the time of his death in 1992, Keller had painted 160 portraits of individuals connected in some manner to Yale.