Professor Nonie Lesaux has been named academic dean of Harvard Graduate School of Education, effective August 1, 2017.
“From her years directing our Ph.D. Program to her ongoing service as chair of the Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care, Nonie Lesaux brings a unique and valuable set of skills and experiences to the role of academic dean,” said Dean James E. Ryan. “Throughout her time at HGSE, she has proven herself a remarkably capable leader, a nationally recognized expert in literacy and child development, and a deeply caring and dedicated colleague. I am delighted to have her as a partner in our work.”
In her role as academic dean, Lesaux will be responsible for faculty and academic affairs, including research funding, student progress, and governance.
“We are continuing to look to innovations in teaching and learning, and what it means to be educated in the 21st century — whether as an HGSE student-in-residence or as a student on another continent engaged with the Ed School’s online learning,” said Lesaux. “As we engage in ongoing improvement of our degree programs and strengthen supports for students, it is my privilege and pleasure to serve in the role of academic dean.”
Lesaux also co-directs the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative at HGSE, created through a $35 million gift from the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation, the largest in HGSE history. The initiative promotes the knowledge, professional learning, and collective action to build quality early learning environments and experiences for children across the country. The Early Learning Study at Harvard, a first-of-its-kind research endeavor, will examine children’s development in the varied contexts of their learning experiences – from home care to preschool providers.
“I look forward to working to advance HGSE’s mission and impact at a time in history when the field of education is changing rapidly, and ideas about education have perhaps never been more contested,” said Lesaux. “The new role allows me to continue to work with a very talented group of colleagues — faculty, staff, and students alike — whose everyday professional lives revolve in some way around strengthening learning and development across the lifespan, and who hold educational opportunities for all, in the broadest sense, as fundamental to the work.”
Lesaux, a native of Canada, earned her doctorate in educational psychology and special education from the University of British Columbia. She is also a recipient of the William T. Grant Scholars Award and of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor given by the United States government to young professionals early in the research careers.
Lesaux is replacing Professor Bridget Terry Long, who has served as academic dean at HGSE since 2013.
“Bridget has had a truly exceptional tenure as academic dean — in the last four years, she oversaw the reorganization of our academic affairs units, led the effort to develop and implement HGSE’s online strategy, and shepherded more than a dozen external faculty hires and just as many internal promotions,” said Ryan. “All the while, she continued to teach, mentor students, conduct research, and passionately advocate for education policies that have benefited students across the country. HGSE owes her a great debt for her service.”