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New Named Chairs Announced

Five faculty members at the Harvard Graduate School of Education have recently been awarded named chairs

Dean Bridget Long has announced that five faculty members have been awarded named faculty chairs: Susan Dynarski, Heather Hill, Nonie Lesaux, Meira Levinson, and Catherine Snow

Hill’s chair, the Hazen-Nicoli Professorship in Teacher Learning and Leadership, is newly endowed. The appointments for Dynarski and Levinson represent the first named chairs they have held at HGSE. Hill, Lesaux, and Snow had previously held other named chairs.  

“Sue Dynarski, Heather Hill, Nonie Lesaux, Meira Levinson, and Catherine Snow are eminent scholars making incredible contributions to the field,” said Long. “From teacher education and leadership to language and literacy development, to equity and opportunity in higher education, these distinguished researchers are committed to improving educational opportunities for all students. It is an honor to recognize the important work they are each doing by awarding these endowed chairs.”

Susan Dynarski

Professor Susan Dynarski
The Patricia Albjerg Graham Professor of Education, formerly held by Professor Catherine Snow, is awarded to a tenured faculty member whose scholarly work and interests fall within the areas of inquiry and practice advanced by Graham, including practice and policy at the K-12 and higher education levels and matters of equal access and equity. To that effect, Dynarski’s research focuses on understanding and reducing inequality in education, looking to assess the effects of charter schools, financial aid, postsecondary schooling, class size, and high school reforms on academic achievement, educational attainment, and long-term outcomes. Her work aims to make higher education more accessible — particularly for low-income and first-generation students — by lowering or removing barriers at multiple stages of college admissions, including by improving application processes and simplifying enrollment. 

Liay Escalera

Professor Heather Hill
Hill has been named to the newly endowed Hazen-Nicoli Professorship in Teacher Learning and Leadership, which was created to fund “an eminent scholar in the domain of teacher learning and leadership and/or innovation in teacher preparation.” Hill, who will act as co-chair of HGSE’s new master’s program in Teaching and Teacher Leadership, studies teacher and teaching quality and efforts to improve both. Her expertise includes teacher professional development, teacher education, instructional coaching, curriculum implementation, and the quality of K–8 U.S. mathematics teaching. Most recently, she has advocated for research designs that causally test the efficacy of new practices in teacher education and is conducting several such studies at Harvard and elsewhere. She has also argued for more rigorous testing of professional development programs’ design features and is partnering with several large-scale professional learning providers to conduct these studies. Her earlier work developed measures for tracking mathematics teacher learning, including instruments that capture teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT) and the mathematical quality of instruction (MQI) within classrooms. Hill was previously the Jerome T. Murphy Professor of Education. 

Nonie Lesaux

Professor Nonie Lesaux 
Lesaux was appointed the Roy E. Larsen Professor of Education and Human Development, a chair, formerly held by Professor Robert Selman, which is awarded to scholars who work in the field of human development. Lesaux’s research focuses on promoting the language and literacy skills of today’s children from diverse linguistic, cultural, and economic backgrounds. Her developmental and experimental research on school-age children and youth investigates language, reading, and social-emotional development; classroom quality and academic growth; learning disabilities; and strategies for accelerating language and reading comprehension. Lesaux’s work has earned her the William T. Grant Scholars Award, and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor given by the United States government to young professionals beginning their independent research careers. She currently serves as co-Lead of the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative and chair of the Massachusetts’ Board of Early Education and Care. Lesaux was previously the Juliana W. and William Foss Thompson Professor of Education and Society. 

Meira Levinson

Professor Meira Levinson 
Levinson, a political philosopher who works at the intersection of civic education, youth empowerment, racial justice, and educational ethics, was appointed the Juliana W. and William Foss Thompson Professor of Education and Society. The chair is intended for a scholar whose work advances “the study of education and its societal context, including its relationship to economic, political and public factors” and who has demonstrated extraordinary service to HGSE. Levinson is currently working to start a global field of educational ethics that both relevant to and informed by educational policy and practice. Levinson’s work in this area has been supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center of Ethics, and the Spencer Foundation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Levinson has expanded educational ethics to address the multitude of ethical challenges posed by school closures, remote schooling, and uncertain re-openings. She is a co-chair of one of the new Ed.M. Foundations, Equity & Opportunity. 

Catherine Snow

Professor Catherine Snow 
The John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, formerly held by Professor Howard Gardner, was endowed to “advance the study of human cognition, human intelligence and other aspects of human development.” Snow, an expert on language and literacy development in children, focuses on how oral language skills are acquired and how they relate to literacy outcomes. Her current research looks at how early childhood classrooms are supporting children’s development in the Boston Public Schools. Her longstanding research-practice partnership, the Strategic Education Research Partnership (SERP), develops curricular tools to support teachers in introducing innovative classroom practices. Word Generation, a discussion-based academic language and literacy program developed by SERP, has been shown to improve middle-school literacy outcomes, in particular for students from language-minority homes. Snow was previously the Patricia Albjerg Graham Professor of Education. 


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