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Blazing Trails and Securing HGSE's Future


On July 1, 1982, historian of education Patricia Albjerg Graham made history herself when she was appointed dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education — the first woman to lead a faculty at Harvard.

While research programs were always an integral part of HGSE during Graham’s tenure, she re-established strong ties to public schools and brought a strong focus on education practice back to the curriculum. Graham attracted future practitioners to HGSE with programs such as the Undergraduate Teacher Education Program (UTEP), Urban Superintendents Program, and the MidCareer Math and Sciences Program. With the renewed interest in teacher training, new partnerships were forged between HGSE and local school districts, thereby securing “fieldwork” sites for students in those programs.

Patricia Albjerg Graham was the first woman to lead a faculty at Harvard. And that was only the beginning.

During her tenure, new outreach programs were established and strengthened. Programs in Professional Education (now Professional Education at HGSE) and The Principals’ Center continued curriculum support to current practitioners. The Harvard Education Letter was established in 1985 as a means to reach K–12 educators. This newsletter became a concise source of information for new research and innovative practices. The years of Graham’s administration also brought stability to the senior faculty as a 10-year moratorium on granting tenure was lifted with nine new tenured appointments.

Graham continued to teach at HGSE until 2006 when she retired as the Charles Warren Research Professor of the History of American Education, Emerita — but she's still a friendly face on campus, regularly visiting to share wisdom with students, faculty, and her successors in the dean's office.

Learn More and Connect

Watch the full video of Dean Graham's interview with Dean Long.

Learn more about the Women in Education Leadership program.

Explore HGSE Professional Education's Harvard Institutes for Higher Education.

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