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Summer Updates and Upcoming Community Events

A message from Dean Bridget Long: 
Summer Updates and Upcoming Community Events
August 3, 2022 

After two years of disruption, it finally feels like many of us have been able to enjoy our previous summer traditions. It’s been wonderful to hear colleagues share stories of relaxing days on the beach, trips to other parts of the country and world, and other events connecting with family and friends. On campus, Professioal Education participants have returned to our classrooms for in-person programs, and our new students and faculty have started to arrive for the upcoming school year.

While it is wonderful to feel the energy rising on campus, we know COVID is not gone, and we remain diligent about tracking new variants and evolving public health conditions. We continue to monitor key indicators, such as wastewater COVID tracking and hospitalizations. Additionally, we are taking safety precautions, such as requiring all faculty, staff, and students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and encouraging testing upon arrival for students. While masks are required for new students taking courses on campus during the first ten days of August, longer term, we expect that masking will be an individual choice, and we continue to emphasize the importance of respecting the choices of others. We each share a responsibility to safeguard the health of our campus and community, and if you feel ill or exhibit any symptoms, please stay home and report your symptoms via Crimson Clear.

Still, it is my hope that this school year we will get beyond just surviving the pandemic to a place of thriving — taking time to recharge and rejuvenate, building on the many things we’ve learned and accomplished in recent years, and finding ways to work smarter for greater impact. The commitment to help this community get to a place of thriving — even in the midst of continued uncertainty and upheaval in the wider world — is what guides much of the current work of the Dean’s Office. I’m excited to share several updates on this ongoing work along with news from around the School. 

Welcoming the New Ed.M. Cohort

A central innovation of the redesigned master’s degree program is the four Foundations courses, which are required for all Ed.M. students for the first time this year. Students recently completed How People Learn online, and they begin the second course, Leading Change, today. While the summer Foundations courses mark the start of new academic rhythms and the shifting of activities for some staff and faculty, in other ways, we are happy to revert back to our pre-pandemic practices. Most notably, by moderating our enrollment, our student body size has returned to previous levels after managing a surge of 300 extra master’s students during past two years (largely due to the extra admissions round during summer 2020 and the large number of students who elected to attend part-time).  

After years of planning, the excitement is palpable as our new Ed.M. students start their transition into our community. I saw this firsthand when I visited students in our newest program, the Online Master’s Degree in Education Leadership (OEL). The OEL students have been on Appian Way for the past several days for their on-campus institute and are about to return to their homes to continue their studies remotely. HGSE remains more than just a spot on a map; our students and alumni are working all over the world to have an impact on improving education.

Continuing Flexible Work Arrangements

Building on our successes and lessons learned from the past several years also guides our ongoing commitment to flexible work arrangements. As I’ve shared before, HGSE continues to be primarily a residential institution. Still, we seek to strike a balance between in-person and virtual work. To that end, we will not go back to requiring an on-campus presence for five days a week. However, we very much recognize the benefits of in-person interaction, collaboration, and community building. Therefore, in developing work arrangements, our approach has centered on the nature, tasks, and processes of each role, along with how teams benefit from each other’s presence. This means that there will be variation by individual and by office in terms of how on-campus and remote work is balanced, and this is a pattern that has already developed across HGSE.

We are now taking stock of the practices that have emerged based on previous guidance and discussion. During the past several weeks, we have been surveying managers and supervisors to understand how teams have organized their work arrangements with an emphasis on learning the rationale for certain patterns and how on-campus time, such as anchor days (i.e., designated times when all team members are required to be on campus), have been used. With the lingering effects of the pandemic and the fact that summer schedules often vary from usual school-year patterns, we may not have settled into a permanent model yet. Still, we are considering how the practices that have emerged at HGSE relate to what we have been learning from other schools and the set of best practices being established, as so many organizations grapple with the issue of how to balance in-person and remote work. More to come soon, but it is our intent to continue our current path of balancing in-person and remote work according to the needs of each role and team.

HGSE Community Events

While we do not expect to return to 100% in-person work, we still want to ensure there are opportunities for community connection and engagement. Later this week, please look out for a formal invitation to the HGSE Ice Cream Social, a tradition we look forward to resurrecting. We will have two sessions: August 16 and 17 from 2-3 p.m. each day. Also stay tuned for announcements about fall events, such as community socials and coffee hours.  

In the meantime, please take note of the following Affinity-Group Events open to students, faculty, and staff:

MONDAY, AUGUST 8:

Black Students, Faculty, and Staff — Coffee Mixer 
11 a.m. – noon in GCC Event Room 1
This event is open to all HGSE community members who identify with The African Diaspora.

Latinx Students, Faculty, and Staff — Coffee Mixer 
4 – 5 p.m. in GCC Event Room 1
This event is open to all HGSE community members of Latin American origin or descent.
 
Pan-Asian/Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Students, Faculty, and Staff — Coffee Mixer 
5 – 6 p.m. in GCC Event Room 4
This event is open to all HGSE community members who identify as East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander. 

TUESDAY, AUGUST 9:

LGBTQIA+ Students, Faculty, and Staff — Coffee Mixer 
11 a.m. – noon in GCC Event Rooms 4 and 5
This event is open to all HGSE community members who identify as LGBTQIA+
 
1st Generation Students, Faculty, and Staff — Coffee Mixer 
4:00 – 5:00 PM in GCC Event Rooms 4 and 5
This event is open to all HGSE community members who identify as being the first generation of their immediate family to graduate from a four-year college or the equivalent

Thankfully, summer is not over yet. I wish you all the very best as you enjoy the warm weather with loved ones.

Best,
Bridget

Bridget Terry Long, Ph.D.
Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education
Saris Professor of Education and Economics

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