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A New Beginning

HGSE celebrates Orientation 2018 with faculty talks and cohort gatherings.


The Harvard Graduate School of Education welcomed 739 new students to Radcliffe Yard for Orientation ceremonies today, marking the start of a new year and the new deanship of Bridget Terry Long, who assumed the office on July 1. The incoming cohort includes 669 Ed.M. students, 29 Ph.D. students, 25 Ed.L.D. students, and 16 students who are part of the Certificate of Advanced Study Program. The new cohort also includes students from 56 different countries, including Peru, Australia, Syria, Cameroon, and Malaysia.

Incoming students heard Long deliver her first Orientation address as dean. “Like you, I’m new too, in a manner of sorts,” she said. “Even though I’ve been on the faculty here for nearly two decades, being dean is a new role for me. And doing new things can make anyone feel a bit nervous.

“That’s why it’s so important to me that, during this week of Orientation, my colleagues and I both introduce you to the resources that will help you thrive at HGSE and make you feel comfortable enough to fully engage in all that this place has to offer,” said Long.

She offered three connected pillars of advice for new HGSE students:

  • You belong here.
  • The person next to you belongs here too.
  • But remember who is not here.

“What I hope you’ll keep in mind,” Long said, “is that this experience is as much for the people who aren’t here as it is for the people who are. So whatever your greatest wishes and aspirations are, I hope they are greater than you. You are here to make a real and lasting difference, and there is a whole world that is eagerly waiting for you.”

Following the opening remarks came Orientation’s signature event: the 8 x 8s, where eight faculty members took the stage for eight minutes each, in free-wheeling, TED-style orations on their essential work at the vanguard of their fields.

This year’s speakers and topics:

  • Professor Andrew Ho
    Big Data: The Distribution of Academic Achievement in the United States
  • Assistant Professor Dana McCoy
    Beyond Letters and Numbers: The Role of Schools in Supporting Nonacademic Skills
  • Senior Lecturer Richard Weissbourd
    Raising Moral Children in Morally Troubled Times
  • Professor Nonie Lesaux
    Getting it Right from the Start: The Role of Early Education in Shaping the Future of Today’s Children
  • Associate Professor Natasha Warikoo
    Why the Way We Talk about Affirmative Action Prevents Progress toward Racial Justice
  • Professor Thomas Hehir
    How Did You Get Here? Students with Disabilities and Their Journeys to Harvard
  • Senior Lecturer Elizabeth City
    The Central Role of Task in Learning
  • Senior Lecturer Irvin Scott
    Faith & Education: Is There an Appropriate Intersection?

Following lunch, students will spend the day in sessions that grapple with key topics in education — designed to simulate their curiosity and give them a preview of how to make the most of the year ahead.

Cohorts and degree programs are celebrating their own inaugural events as well, welcoming their students at gatherings held last week and this week. And orientation events were also held for students of color and international students.

Photos by Jill Anderson and Iman Rastegari