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HGSE Leadership Transition: A New Chapter

A message from Dean Bridget Long

It is with a deep sense of gratitude and admiration for this remarkable community that I write today to share the news that I have decided to step down as dean at the end of this academic year. This decision was not an easy one, but I believe this is the right time for me to embark on my next chapter — and the school is well positioned to embark on its own next chapter, too.

Please know that my decision was made weeks ago, unconnected to the current events surrounding Harvard and its presidential transition. By the end of this academic year, I will have served as dean of HGSE for six years, and academic dean for four years before that. The opportunity to help lead this school over those 10 years has been an unforgettable honor. My time as dean has been marked by tremendous change, and I am amazed at what we’ve accomplished together.

  • We’ve brought to fruition a multi-year process to review and redesign our master’s degree program, culminating in the creation of the Foundations curriculum — a groundbreaking new vision for professionalizing the field of education. 
  • We weathered the unexpected — the COVID pandemic — and found new ways to connect, invest in our skills and our community, and support students.
  • We opened our doors to many new students by creating an exemplary online master’s degree program, a model for the University.
  • We celebrated our Centennial: 100 years of working to improve education through our scholarship, teaching, and leadership. 
  • We grew and developed our faculty and staff, with many new hires and promotions. I take special joy in supporting and promoting the incredible work and impact of my colleagues. 
  • We enhanced our external engagement, from the elevation of the Askwith Education Forum to the launch of Education Now and the creation of the Dean’s Education Fellows and Principal’s Network, key supports for K-12 districts around the world.  
  • We also created the Social Impact and Lifelong Learning (SILL) unit, invigorating our field-facing supports by combining career services, alumni engagement, and professional education into a single hub.  
  • And we raised $230 million during the last five and a half years from generous donors who share our commitment to education and to HGSE — including a record-breaking $80 million for financial aid so that we can welcome and support the best students into our degree programs regardless of ability to pay.

I look forward with excitement to how the school will continue to grow and advance its mission over the next 10 years as it confronts the many new questions, and new challenges, that are at the forefront of our field and our society. I’ll be vigorously addressing those challenges myself, as I return to active scholarship, using my expertise, research, and voice to address some of the larger debates about higher education that are now unfolding.  Following a sabbatical next year, I look forward to continuing as a proud HGSE faculty member. 

In the meantime, please know that HGSE has the full support of the President’s Office, initially from President Gay during the planning stages and now with Interim President Garber, who echoes my commitment to a smooth transition and to continued positive momentum for HGSE. In the coming weeks, President Garber will form the search committee for my successor and appoint an interim dean for once my term ends in June. 

Looking ahead, we still have several months together, and we will continue our work to explore opportunities as we prepare for the next chapter. My focus will be dedicated to this community — the students, faculty, staff, and alumni who have been my primary motivation and from whose generosity, talent, and support I have benefited so deeply.  

Each time I take the podium at one of our Askwith Education Forums, or at a Convocation gathering, I always repeat the same sentence. My name is Bridget Terry Long, and I am very proud to be the dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. That pride is in all of you — and in the incredibly important work that you are doing. The world, now more than ever, needs your passion, your solutions, your empathy, and your capacity to lead.  I look forward to celebrating all we have done together and connecting with many of you in the months to come. 

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