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Harvard University to Offer Groundbreaking Doctoral Program for Education Leaders

Harvard University today announced the launch of a new, practice-based doctoral program to prepare graduates for senior leadership roles in school districts, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector.

The new tuition-free Doctor of Education Leadership Program (Ed.L.D.) will be taught by faculty from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Harvard Business School (HBS), and the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). The program offers an unprecedented approach to preparing leaders equipped to transform the American education system in order to enable all students to succeed in a 21st-century world. The three-year program will begin in August 2010 and initially enroll 25 students per year.

"One of the core missions of Harvard's professional schools is to prepare leaders who can guide organizations in a rapidly changing environment. No sector has a greater need for such transformational leaders than public education," said Harvard President Drew Faust. "I am delighted that professors from three outstanding professional schools are combining their knowledge and experience to create this groundbreaking program."

Based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Ed.L.D. will be the first new degree offered in 74 years by the school. The degree is a practice-based doctorate designed to equip students with a deep understanding of learning and teaching as well as the management and leadership skills necessary to reshape the American education sector.

In the first two years of the program, students will participate in a new customized curriculum of classes, modules, and practice-based experiences. In the concluding year, students will enter a year-long residency in a partner education organization pursuing transformational change where they will receive hands-on training and lead a capstone project to complete the doctoral degree.

"Research clearly shows that no school improvement effort can succeed without effective leadership, and such leadership is needed at all levels - federal, state, district, and school - in our current systems and in the systems we will create in the future," said M. Christine DeVita, president of The Wallace Foundation, which provided a $10-million grant to support the effort. "The new Doctor of Education Leadership Program draws on what we've learned about effective leader preparation over the past decade. By providing fellowship support that will remove the barrier of cost and student debt, we hope to attract the most accomplished and promising future leaders to this innovative program and to these careers that are so important to our nation's future."

The program tethers academic preparation to real-world practice by partnering with the same types of organizations that graduates of the program will aspire to lead. These organizations include not only many of the leading urban school districts (e.g., Atlanta, Denver, New York City), but also some of the most noted organizations driving change in K-12 education (including Teach for America, New Leaders for New Schools, KIPP, and the National Center on Education and the Economy).

"Our goal is not to develop leaders for the system as it currently exists; rather, we aim to develop people who will lead system transformation," said Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean Kathleen McCartney. "We believe this new degree program will be a catalyst to drive that change. It will allow us to meet our goal of producing a new generation of education leaders, who will have a laser-like focus on student learning, and will know how to translate that into large-scale system change. They will be successful by altering education policy debates, forging powerful public-private partnerships, and restoring public confidence in our schools."

The Doctor of Education Leadership Program - which will be led by HGSE faculty Richard Elmore , Harry Spence (HGSE/HKS), and Elizabeth City (HGSE) - is unique in its integrated curriculum in learning and instruction, management and leadership, and policy and politics. Students will learn with faculty from the three professional schools, including Stacey Childress (HBS), Marshall Ganz (HKS), Deborah Jewell-Sherman (HGSE), Robert Kegan (HGSE), Mark Moore (HKS/HGSE), and David Thomas (HBS).

"In creating this groundbreaking program, we are proud to bring together the strengths of our three great faculties with an array of exceptionally pioneering organizations," said Professor Robert Schwartz, academic dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. "The Obama Administration and large private foundations are about to make unprecedented levels of investment in education reform. It is critical that states and districts, and the national organizations they count on for support, have access to a pipeline of leadership talent equipped with the knowledge and skills to ensure that these investments produce dramatic improvements in the performance of our schools."

Press Contact: Michael Rodman, 617-496-5037

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