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Patricia Graham was the first woman to be appointed dean of a Harvard faculty. She had previously directed Barnard College’s education program and held faculty appointments at Indiana University, Northern Michigan University, and Columbia University’s Teachers College. Graham joined the HGSE faculty while serving as dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study and vice president for Institutional Planning of Radcliffe College. She left these positions to become president of the National Institute of Education and returned to Harvard in 1979 as the Charles Warren Professor of the History of American Education.
Graham re-established strong ties to public schools and brought a strong focus on education practice back to the curriculum. She attracted future practitioners with programs such as the Undergraduate Teacher Education Program, enabling Harvard undergraduates to earn their bachelor’s degree and educator licensure simultaneously; the Urban Superintendents Program for doctoral students interested in leading city public school systems; and the Mid-Career Math and Sciences Program, designed to draw professionals from technically oriented fields into careers as secondary science and math teachers. With the renewed interest in teacher training, HGSE forged new partnerships with local school districts to secure fieldwork sites for students in those programs.
During her tenure, Graham established and strengthened new outreach programs and supported current practitioners with Programs in Professional Education and the Principals’ Center. She established the Harvard Education Letter, a newsletter for research and innovative practices, in 1985 to reach K–12 educators. The years of Graham’s administration brought stability to the senior faculty as a 10-year moratorium on granting tenure was lifted with nine new tenured appointments.
Graham resigned in 1991 and then served as president of the Spencer Foundation. She continued to teach at HGSE until 2006, when she retired as the Charles Warren Research Professor of the History of American Education, Emerita.
Born in Boston, Melvin “Mel” Robbins graduated from Boston University in 1939 and the Massachusetts Art School in 1941. During WWII, he painted murals and portraits as a member of the U.S. Army Special Services. After the war, Robbins was president and art director of the White Card company. He retired in 1968 to become a full-time portrait artist.
Robbins painted two portraits on display in the Eliot-Lyman Room of Deans Ylvisaker and Patricia Albjerg Graham. Additionally, he received portrait commissions from other Harvard University faculties, including the Dental School, Divinity School, Law School, and Medical School. His portraits have been commissioned by other educational institutions, local and state governments, and hospitals.
Robbins worked as a highly acclaimed courtroom artist for local television news programs and newspapers. His work for WBZ-TV was awarded a regional Emmy Award in 1979.