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About HGSE

Kathleen McCartney, born 1956

Dean, 2006-2013

Kathleen McCartneyKathleen McCartney became Dean in May 2006 after serving as Acting Dean since July 2005. Since 2000, she served as a member of HGSE's faculty and as Academic Dean in 2004-2005. Prior to her appointment at HGSE, McCartney was an assistant professor of psychology in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences from 1982-1987. Subsequently, McCartney became a faculty member at the University of New Hampshire and served as the director of the UNH Child Study & Development Center. She is a leading expert on child development and early education.

McCartney's accomplishments during her tenure as Dean were many and far-reaching. Her deanship strategically focused on affirming HGSE's role at the nexus of practice, policy, and research and building a graduate school of education for the 21st century. Harvard University President Drew Faust stated that Dean McCartney "has strengthened the Ed School in every possible dimension: The faculty and student body is energized; the academic vision is clear; the school is better integrated into the wide university. The school is exceedingly well positioned for the future, thanks to her leadership."

In collaboration with a dedicated faculty and administrative team, Dean McCartney implemented a strategic plan resulting in the creation of two new doctoral degree programs. Launched in 2009, the Doctorate in Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) is a three-year, practice-oriented degree that has strong intra-University partnerships with the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Approved in 2012, the new research-based Ph.D. in Education was also created and jointly administered by HGSE and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Great strides were made to increase the level of financial support given to HGSE students. By the end of her deanship, doctoral students received guaranteed fellowships and financial aid to master's students more than doubled. The faculty was also strengthened during McCartney's years as Dean. The school saw a 25 percent growth in core faculty positions, rising from 59 to 76. The number of tenure track positions rose from 10 to 20 (including the creation of four new endowed positions). Additionally, the number of core faculty members of color more than doubled, rising from 8 to 20. A central feature of McCartney's tenure was an increased commitment to creating external national and global relationships in education. Those efforts resulted in the establishment of a partner network of more than 30 school districts and non-profit organizations. Also, during McCartney's tenure as Dean, HGSE raised over $162 million and the funds which helped to support many of the school's new endeavors.

Dean McCartney also oversaw a renewed commitment to the renovation and modernization of HGSE's existing building and facilities. HGSE received four LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) awards for these projects, most notably receiving the much coveted platinum award for the Larsen classrooms and Gutman Library renovations. The transformation of the first floor of Gutman Library, to include a cafe and vibrant student center, gave HGSE a thriving community space, serving as an intellectual and social center for the school.

Effective July 1, 2013, McCartney stepped down as Dean to become the eleventh President of Smith College in Northampton, MA. Learn more about Dean McCartney in her faculty profile.

About the Artist: Stephen E. Coit, American, born 1948

Artist Stephen Coit has painted over twenty portraits of ministers, professors, and deans for Harvard University including a portrait of former Dean, now Harvard President Drew Faust, and two winners of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Other commissions have included Tufts University, Lesley University and Saint Andrews University in Scotland. A great many of Coit's portraits have honored distinguished individuals of diverse races, nationalities, and many women.

In portraiture, Mr. Coit views his goals as presenting his subjects as they see themselves and to communicate whatever message they wish to impart to future generations. "It's is not the artist's impressions or intentions that are important," Coit explains, "A portrait is all about the person to be honored, not the artist."

Dean Kathleen McCartney's portrait was commissioned in 2014. From the outset, McCartney envisioned a portrait set on the grounds of the HGSE, preferably including a ginkgo tree, her personal favorite. The iconic gate opening to Appian Way is suggestive of the educational opportunities opened by Dean McCartney, the fellowship and financial aid programs initiated by her among many other achievements.

Smiles mark much of modern photographic portraiture, but they introduce a decision for painters: whether a subject should pose smiling. While Dean McCartney was renowned for her approachability and constant good humor, she and the artist agreed that future audiences should also know her as an effective, dedicated leader; hence, the joint decision to portray her with a more thoughtful, serious expression.

Stephen Coit graduated from Harvard in 1971 in Applied Mathematics in Computer Science, and earned an M.B.A. in 1977 from Harvard Business School graduating with High Distinction.

Mr. Coit spent his early career in high technology as a software developer, marketing executive, and entrepreneur, and finally as a successful venture capitalist for many years. In 1996, he left venture capital to begin a second career as an artist. Painting, which had previously been his avocation, became his full time profession.

Though he continues to take courses part time and has attended a few summer institutes, Stephen Coit is largely self-taught. "Classical portraiture has largely and sadly disappeared from most art curricula," Coit adds, "Consequently, my best but also my most intimidating instructors have been the likes of Velásquez, Vermeer, Raeburn, and Sargent."