Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean James E. Ryan is pleased to announce that John Silvanus Wilson Jr., Ed.M.’82, Ed.D.’85, senior adviser and strategist to the president at Harvard University, will address the graduating class and their families at convocation on May 23, 2018.

“Throughout his expansive career, and with unrivaled dedication to his alma maters, John has been working faithfully to ensure that colleges and universities reach their full potential as sites of personal transformation and social progress,” said Ryan. “This year, we had the great fortune of hosting John as a president-in-residence and we’re delighted for our graduates to hear from a remarkable HGSE alumnus and visionary leader. We’re deeply indebted to the HGSE Speakers Committee, chaired by [Professor] Paul Reville, for recommending John to be this year’s convocation speaker.”

Wilson, the former president of Morehouse College, has also served as a member of the Board of Overseers, the former head of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities under President Obama, and as a former senior administrator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“When Dean Ryan reached out to me to officially extend the invitation, he let me know that a committee of students, faculty, and staff jointly made the decision. I know this may sound or seem like a standard thing to say, but I truly regard it as an honor and a privilege to have been selected,” said Wilson. “I know they could have chosen any number of educators or brand-name people from around the country or world. That they chose me feels quite special and when it’s all said and done, I want the graduates to feel that their trust in me was well-placed!”

After leaving Morehouse College last March, Wilson returned to HGSE’s campus to begin work on a book on the future of higher education, with an emphasis on black colleges, and became immersed in the community once again, co-teaching classes in the Higher Education Program, and developing relationships with students, faculty, and staff.

“HGSE is still a place where people come to imagine and plan better ways to realize powerful educational outcomes. I felt that way about this special community when I was here in 1985, and I still see and sense those virtues 32 years later,” Wilson said. “Beside the impressive professionalism of the staff, there remains among the students and faculty a deep understanding of the full range of educational challenges facing our nation. There is also a palpable determination to come up with new ways to fix what’s broken. I have met people here who are grappling with and trying to solve some of the most intractable problems in education.  I just love the energetic, creative, and innovative spirit that is evident in people on that kind of journey.”

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