As a longtime Harvard faculty member – both at HGSE and FAS – Kathleen McCartney began her deanship in 2006 (after a year as interim dean) ready to hit the ground running. She quickly turned her attention to positioning HGSE as a school of education for the 21st century.
As Dean, Kathy McCartney helped make the Ed School what it is today – a diverse community of scholars and leaders intent on solving the problems of the 21st century.
McCartney collaborated with faculty and administrators to develop a strategic plan that ultimately resulted in the creation of two new doctoral degree programs, the Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) and the Doctor of Philosophy in Education (Ph.D.). Not only did the new degrees immediately begin attracting the top candidates in education leadership and research, but they also created strong partnerships between HGSE and other schools at Harvard.
McCartney was committed to improving the diversity of HGSE, both within the student body and in the makeup of the faculty. She increased financial aid and fellowships, allowing more students to matriculate, and the number of core faculty members of color more than doubled during her tenure, rising from 8 to 20. She enhanced campus life with a commitment to the renovation and modernization of HGSE's existing building and facilities, including the addition of a cafe and vibrant student center in Gutman Library that is now a daily meeting place for the community.
When McCartney left HGSE to become president of Smith College in 2013, then-Harvard President Drew Faust noted that she had "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."
– Video produced by Elio Pajares, story by Marin Jorgensen