Campus & Community

McCartney named acting dean of HGSE

4 min read

Leading scholar, academic dean to take helm

Kathleen McCartney, Gerald S. Lesser Professor in Early Childhood Development and academic dean, will serve as acting dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education pending the appointment of a permanent dean, President Lawrence H. Summers announced Monday (June 6). Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, the current dean, announced her intention in March to step down at the end of this academic year. The search for a permanent dean will begin immediately after Commencement.

Since the beginning of this year, McCartney has served as HGSE’s academic dean. (Staff file photo Jon Chase/Harvard News Office)

A nationally recognized scholar on child development, McCartney has been a member of the faculty at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education since 2000 and has served, since the beginning of this academic year, as the academic dean of the School. McCartney’s research focuses on the interplay among child care, parenting, and poverty contexts, and her work informs theoretical questions related to early experience as well as policy questions concerning child care.

“Kathy McCartney is an outstanding scholar who has made important leadership contributions to the Ed School over the past year in her role as academic dean,” Summers said. “She will bring energy and continuity to this new role, and I am confident that she will be able to maintain forward progress on key initiatives launched under Dean Lagemann’s leadership over the last three years. I am grateful for her willingness to help guide the Ed School through this time of transition.”

“I am gratified by the trust that President Summers and Provost [Steven E.] Hyman have shown in asking me to take on this assignment,” said McCartney. “They have assured me of their support for the School and for our efforts to move forward on key priorities – making faculty appointments, strengthening our masters and doctoral programs, and working to build relationships with practice and with other Harvard Schools – as the search for permanent dean moves forward.”

As a principal investigator of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, McCartney and her colleagues have led a national, longitudinal study of 1,364 children from birth through age 15 over the past 16 years. Major findings from this research were published in 2005 in “Child Care and Child Development” by Guilford Press.

“Professor McCartney is a first-rate researcher whose work is grounded in practice,” Hyman stated. “She is a gifted teacher who brings a wealth of expertise on early child development and policy analysis to the Ed School. Based on broad consultation with Professor McCartney’s faculty colleagues, I am confident that she will bring the same imagination and rigor to her new administrative role.”

McCartney has published numerous journal articles across several disciplines and teaches courses on early childhood development. In April 2005, she served as co-chair of the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development. She has also served on the editorial board of the journal Child Development, is a fellow of the American Psychological Society, and a member of the American Psychological Association.

Previously, McCartney was a Bush Fellow in Child Development and Social Policy at Yale University where she earned her Ph.D. in 1982. From 1982 to 1987, she served as an assistant professor in the Psychology Department of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Subsequently, she joined the faculty of the University of New Hampshire (UNH), where she directed the UNH Child Study & Development Center, a laboratory school for 138 children. McCartney became a member of Harvard’s Ed School faculty in fall 2000.

McCartney’s other research projects include “The Social Ecology of After-School Care, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development” (1993-1997), “The Social Ecology of Infant Child Care, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development” (1989-1995), and “How Children Make Their Own Language Environments, National Institutes of Mental Health” (1987-1988). She has also been a visiting research scholar at the Center for Research on Women at Wellesley College.

McCartney received her bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, from Tufts University, and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in psychology from Yale University.