During his five-year tenure as dean of HGSE, James Ryan certainly had his hands full. Ryan, who is now the president of the University of Virginia, led HGSE’s largest-ever capital campaign, which ultimately raised more than $346 million for the school. He increased the size, strength, and diversity of the HGSE faculty, including the hiring of 17 new faculty members and the addition of 12 members to the senior faculty rank.
As dean, Jim Ryan nurtured and strengthened the HGSE community — celebrating its diversity, scaling its academic impact, and shoring up its fiscal future.
He expanded professional development, including by overseeing the creation of two successful online certificate programs — the Certificate in Advanced Education Leadership (CAEL) and the online Certificate in School Management and Leadership (CSML). And he strengthened other connections to the practice of education, including by relaunching Usable Knowledge, and establishing Scaling for Impact, the Harvard Teacher Fellows Program, and the Teaching and Learning Lab.
But he relished, and took special pride in, the community around him. Launching HGSE’s schoolwide conversation series Fulfilling the Promise of Diversity, Ryan sought ways to bolster connections — both by listening to one another and by consciously reflecting on the needs of learners everywhere, of every background.
Amid all of that, Ryan retained an easy and self-deprecating sense of humor. “What I didn’t realize until I became dean is that Jim made the job look easy,” said his successor, Bridget Terry Long, at the 2019 unveiling of Ryan’s official portrait. “Not only did he train for and run the Boston Marathon every year, he gave a Commencement speech that went viral, taught a course on education and the law, and wrote a bestselling book. No problem, right?” – Video produced by Elio Pajares, story by Bari Walsh
Learn More and Connect
Read an interview with Ryan from his time as dean in which he discusses schools and citizenship.