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Martin West Named Academic Dean

West, an expert on education policy and its impact on student learning, will succeed Nonie Lesaux in the role.
Martin West
Professor Martin West
Photo: Matt Weber

Professor Martin West — an expert on education policy, particularly how policies affect student learning and noncognitive development in K–12 schools — has been named academic dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, effective July 1, 2021. 

“I am delighted that Marty has agreed to serve as our next academic dean. He brings a wealth of expertise — both understanding a great deal about HGSE and education research and policy,” said Dean Bridget Long. “Marty has already demonstrated a capacity for exceptional leadership and service to the school as co-chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee, and I know that he will be a terrific partner to me in our work.” 

In his role as academic dean, West will be responsible for faculty and academic affairs, including research funding, student progress, and governance. 

“It is a huge honor to follow in the footsteps of Bridget Long and Nonie Lesaux — to name only the last two — as academic dean,” said West. “The past year has demonstrated more than ever HGSE’s resilience as an institution and the importance of its work to the world. I look forward to serving the school through two major transitions — the return to campus and the launch of our redesigned master’s degree program — and to supporting our incredible faculty in their teaching and research.” 

West joined the HGSE faculty as an assistant professor in 2009 and has pursued a range of research, including the effects of charter school attendance on cognitive and noncognitive skills, the use of data in schools, and the influence of pay on teacher quality. 

In 2019, West was named the William Henry Bloomberg Professor at Harvard, a professorship that supports a rotating series of scholars and practitioners from across the university who teach and conduct research in the fields of philanthropic policy and practice, public service and volunteerism, and the effective leadership and management of nonprofit and public institutions. He will conclude his stint as Bloomberg Professor on July 1, at which time he will be awarded the Henry Lee Shattuck Chair, previously held by Professor Dan Koretz, who retired in 2019.  

West succeeds Professor Nonie Lesaux as academic dean, a role she has held since 2017. In the last four years, Lesaux helped to usher through the redesign of HGSE’s master’s in education program, managed the recruitment and hiring of new faculty, supported the evolution of the Teaching and Learning Lab, and helped to lead HGSE through an unprecedented year of remote teaching and learning.

“During her four years as academic dean, Nonie has been an incredible, tireless advocate for HGSE and its faculty,” said Long. “She has been an insightful and caring leader as HGSE has weathered the storm of the pandemic, while also guiding important work to finalize and launch the redesigned master’s degree. I have valued her partnership immensely, and to see her dedication and service to our community — especially over this challenging last year — has been an inspiration.”

Lesaux said that the experience of serving as academic dean “has only solidified my deep belief in HGSE — such an absolutely unique and outstanding institution that continues to evolve and to reinvent itself, and one that is truly mission driven. These last four years, and especially the last 15 months, have reinforced that belief in ways I couldn’t have predicted or imagined,” she added. 

After stepping down as academic dean, Lesaux will remain on the HGSE faculty, as well as in her role as faculty co-director of the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative

“HGSE has undertaken so much amazing and important work over the last four years — the master’s program redesign, the hiring of new faculty, the support and scaling of the ever-evolving Teaching and Learning Lab, the field-facing initiatives, and ultimately, the further sharpening and articulating of its impact strategy, in service to the field,” said Lesaux. “It’s a pleasure to hand things off to Marty West, who will so very ably continue to shepherd this important work in service of our mission.” 


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