As Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean Bridget T. Long enters her fifth year in the post, her top priorities are ensuring the financial health of the school and a successful rollout of its five newly redesigned masters programs, Long said in an interview Friday.
HGSE received the largest donation in its history from two Harvard Business School alumni this spring. The alumni donated $30 million directly to HGSE and pledged to match up to $10 million in additional contributions to support scholarships for Teaching and Teacher Leadership, one of the new master's programs at the school.
“They come to us because of their commitment and interest in education very specifically,” Long said of the Business School donors. “While they wanted to stay anonymous, they did want to put out the signal to other Business School alumni.”
Long said she wants to prioritize financial aid.
“We saw some success last year not only with the large gift for the teacher education program to the Teaching and Teacher Leadership – TTL – but financial aid more generally for our master's students,” she said.
Interest in all five of HGSE’s new master's programs has increased, Long added, with more undergraduates and mid-career professionals applying.
“We changed the way we organize the programs,” she said. “Typically [in] higher education, we’re so used to being organized by our disciplines – economics, sociology, psychology – but we reorganized the program to be really focused on the roles that people go into in education, whether that’s leadership or policy or human development, learning design, or teaching.”
Going forward, Long said HGSE is “in constant conversations with our students about their courses” to successfully execute the redesigns.
HGSE also welcomed the first class of its online master's program in education leadership this fall. The virtual program drew a more diverse group of students than other programs, Long said, citing the class’s greater representation of students from the Midwest and the South.
“There's a real richness of the student body that you can put together when you don't have the requirement that you have to leave where you live, so we're really taking advantage of that,” she said.
Long said that the online master's cohort targets students who are typically older and already have master's degrees or “other advanced training.”
“They're not looking to come back and have that campus experience,” Long said.
She added that some HGSE students are in favor of more extensive online course offerings.
“Given the experience that so many students had during Covid, even our residential students have expressed interest in taking some of their courses online,” Long said.
In an interview with The Crimson in 2018, Long said hoped to expand HGSE’s impact locally and globally. She said on Friday that HGSE can serve as a “facilitator” of knowledge for educators, citing the shift to remote learning during the pandemic.
“There was a concerted effort to share what we were developing for ourselves and for our students with a broader field,” Long said.