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Creating Opportunities: Gregory Gallagher, HE'14

Gregory Gallagher HE'14
Coming to the Ed School with a background in fundraising, Gregory Gallagher was pleased to find that he could tailor his experience in the Higher Education Program (HE) to his unique interests and goals. So he did, taking classes such as Higher Education and the Law and Internationalizing Higher Education, all with an eye toward, as he says, helping the real change makers flourish.

“I’ve long thought of myself as someone whose vocation is to create opportunities for others,” Gallagher says. “During my studies at HGSE, one of the subtler lessons has been that the world is filled with people far smarter than me who want to help students succeed. I can’t replicate the incredible talent those people bring to bear, but I can help them position themselves to maximize their effectiveness.”

First post-HGSE step: joining the Washington, D.C. office of the recruiting firm Isaacson, Miller as an associate search consultant. “When I get to Isaacson, Miller,” he says, “I hope to keep creating opportunities, this time by helping to get the right people into the right jobs, so that they can do what they do best.”

During his time at the Ed School, Gallagher’s focus on helping others was noticed by all in his cohort.

“Greg Gallagher approached his studies and his classmates at HGSE with the utmost of respect,” says Professor Judith McLaughlin, director of HE. “Curious and reflective, he asked questions which greatly enriched class conversations and which his classmates said, ‘inspired us to challenge our preconceived ideas and opinions.’ … Outside of class, Greg’s willingness to support his cohort mates was deeply appreciated by them. Greg organized review sessions and shared his detailed notes when students could not attend and was an important ‘go-to’ person for many cohort mates as they considered career options. In nominating Greg for this award, one classmate said simply, ‘Greg consistently lifts up the people around him.’”

Upon learning that he had been honored with the Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award for HE, Gallagher answered some questions about his time at the Ed School and beyond.

What was your goal upon entering the Ed School? I came to the Ed School because the economic issues facing colleges and universities fascinate me. As we all know, costs in higher education have escalated dramatically over time, and so I was concerned that the financial models we use to run these institutions have become unsustainable. I wanted to learn how colleges can achieve viable long-term financial planning, and how I could contribute to that goal.

Is that goal any different now? Yes and no. I am still fascinated by the economics of higher education, and I do think disruption in the space is occurring. At the same time, my year at the Ed School has introduced me to more complex understandings of the problem, as well as several of the brilliant people who are working hard on it. As a result, I’m not as terrified by the prospect of disruption as I was a year ago. I’m also more optimistic that the coming disruption can be beneficial for students.

What is something that you learned at HGSE that you will take with you throughout your career in education? Work hard, but take breaks.

We’ve coined a neologism in the Higher Ed cohort: triple midnight. If you pull an all-nighter that lasts until the following noon, you have reached “double midnight.” If you’re still awake twelve hours after that, you’re now at “triple midnight.”

I am grateful to the friends who showed me by example that nothing good comes from reaching triple midnight.

Any special study spots? I am an incorrigible extrovert, so I’ve loved studying on the ground floor of Gutman, where anyone can interrupt me to say hello. Serendipity lends color to friendship, and Gutman is a great place to experience that.

The number one, biggest surprise of the last year was … The astonishing quantity of wonderful new friends who have blessed my life with their camaraderie. I will miss them terribly.

Despite your busy schedule, you always make time for … Eating breakfast in the morning and reading something reflective at night. You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.


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