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Report of the Consultative Committee for the Selection of a Dean of GSE
May 22, 2007, Volume 53, No. 34

The Consultative Committee for the Selection of a Dean of the Graduate School of Education was convened by President Amy Gutmann and Provost Ron Daniels on August 29, 2006. During the course of the three and a half month search process, the Committee met on 14 occasions and formally reported its recommendations to the President and Provost on December 15, 2006. The Committee members were:

Michael Fitts (Dean, Penn Law)–Chair 
Judith Roth Berkowitz, (Chair, GSE Board of Overseers)
Vivian Gadsden (Education)
Joan Goodman (Education)
Matthew Hartley (Education)                                                                                            
Rebecca Maynard (Education)
Shannon Sauro (Ph.D. Student)
Amy Silverstein Sichel (GSE Alumna)
Rogers Smith (Political Science)
Howard Stevenson (Education)                                                                                            
Brian Strom (Biostatistics and Epidemiology)
Debra Williams (Ed.D. Student)

The search was supported by Dr. Stephen P. Steinberg of the Office of the President, and Ericka Miller, Barbara Stevens, and Katherine Jacobs of the search firm of Isaacson, Miller.

The Committee considered a pool of some 111 active candidates, prospects, applicants, nominees, and consultants.  The Committee selected 21 individuals for closer examination, and then 10 candidates for semi-finalist interviews with sub-committees, one consultant for an exploratory conversation, and ultimately, seven finalists for interviews with the entire Committee.  Based on voluntary self-identifications and other sources, the initial pool contained 66 men, 45 women, and at least 25 persons of color (13 African-Americans, 10 Hispanics, and 2 Asians).

The Committee and its consultants conducted 23 informational interviews and consultative meetings with individuals and groups in the GSE community, as well as many informal contacts, in order to better understand the scope, expectations, and challenges of the Dean’s position and the strategic challenges and opportunities facing GSE.  These included meetings with the School’s entire Faculty, the Board of Overseers, and four open forums for students. The Committee also solicited advice and nominations from all faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the School via email. Based on these conversations, the Committee’s charge from the President and Provost, and its own discussions, the Committee prepared a comprehensive document outlining the scope of the position and the challenges a new Dean will face. 

To meet these challenges, the Committee sought to identify individuals with the following experience and personal qualities:

•            An eminent scholar, whether currently working in the academy or outside.
•            A talented administrator, with a demonstrable track-record of administrative achievement.
•            A faculty leader.
•            A strategic understanding of the interplay of educational research, policy, and practice.
•            An uncompromising commitment to academic excellence.
•            An effective and energetic fundraiser.
•            A demonstrated commitment to diversity.
•            An interdisciplinary thinker, attuned to the values and goals of the Penn Compact.
•            A willingness to engage the local community and advance GSE’s myriad community involvements, including with the Philadelphia schools.
•            A global outlook.
•            A collaborator.
•            The strategic ability to envision and articulate the next stage of GSE’s development.
•            Strong leadership qualities.

The vacancy was announced (and input invited from the entire Penn community) in Almanac and advertised in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Philadelphia Inquirer, Women in Higher Education, Hispanic Outlook, and Diverse Issues in Higher Education. Expressions of interest from candidates with strong scholarly and research credentials and a passionate commitment to putting educational knowledge to work, locally, nationally, and internationally, currently working outside of academe or in departments outside of schools of education were welcomed.

On February 22, 2007 (Almanac, February 27, 2007) President Gutmann announced her selection of one of the candidates recommended by the Consultative Committee–Andrew C. Porter, the Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Leadership, Policy, and Organization and Director of the Learning Sciences Institute in the Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University–to be the next Dean of the Graduate School of Education. A distinguished researcher, a seasoned administrator, an accomplished fundraiser, and an energetic collaborator who has won the respect of a wide range of educational researchers, scholars, and practitioners, Dr. Porter will take office on August 1, 2007, after being presented to the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania for final approval at their June meeting.

–Michael Fitts, Chair,
Consultative Committee for the Selection of a
Dean of the Graduate School of Education

Almanac - May 22, 2007, Volume 53, No. 34