Since its founding in 1920, the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) has been training professionals to create environments in which teaching can transform lives. HGSE emerged as a leading institution in education thought and practice under the leadership of its third dean, Francis Keppel, who established the school as a home for leading faculty and attracted top students with an innovative Master of Arts in Teaching program.
Several innovative programs emerged through the middle of this century, such as the Laboratory of Human Development (now the Human Development and Psychology program), which began exploring the psychological development of children in 1949, the Administrative Career Program (now the Administration, Planning and Social Policy program) in 1952, and Project Zero, founded to study and improve education in the arts. HGSE experienced a rapid expansion of its facilities with the addition of Larsen Hall in 1965 and Gutman Library in 1972.
In 1982, Patricia Albjerg Graham became the Ed School's sixth dean and the first woman dean of a faculty at Harvard University. Under her tenure, the School continued to evolve to meet the changing needs of the nation. Among other accomplishments, Graham established the Midcareer Math and Science Program which became a national model for meeting the country's need for talented math and science teachers.
The 1990s were a time of great academic and financial expansion for the school. In 1990, the school created the Urban Superintendents Program, the only comprehensive doctoral program preparing school leaders for the challenges of urban school system administration. Over the next decade, the School initiated several new programs including Technology in Education, International Education, and School Leadership. Under the leadership of Dean Jerome T. Murphy, the Ed School completed its first capital campaign totaling $111 million, the largest sum ever raised by a school of education.
Ellen Condliffe Lagemann served as the dean of HGSE from 2002 to 2005. A leading historian of education and expert on education research, Lagemann led the Ed School through a period of transition and progress. The academic program of the school was reformed to emphasize collaboration across academic fields. This multi-disciplinary approach could also be seen in the creation of collaborations between HGSE and other schools at Harvard, most notably the Public Education Leadership Project which brought together the management training of the Business School with the education leadership of the Ed School. In addition, Lagemann also forged a leadership role for HGSE in development of core courses which taught a set of core competencies that are shared across the profession. In all of her initiatives, Lagemann emphasized the creation of knowledge that could be applied and tested in school districts and then reevaluated and reformulated in the academy.
On May 16, 2006, Kathleen McCartney, Gerald S. Lesser Professor in Early Childhood Development, was named dean. McCartney had served as acting dean of the School since July 2005. One of the world's foremost experts in early childhood development, her research informs policy questions on child care, early childhood education, poverty, and parenting. She is a principal investigator of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care & Youth Development, a study of 1,350 children from birth through 15 years. McCartney has been a member of the Graduate School of Education faculty since 2000 and served as academic dean during the 2004-2005 academic year.
Today, over 100 faculty members guide nearly 900 students in doctoral and master's programs each year, and provide training through professional development and executive outreach programs to thousands of teachers, administrators, and educational leaders from across the nation.