Stanford prof. becomes new education dean at Penn

Pam Grossman becomes dean of Penn's graduate school of education.

The University of Pennsylvania has hired a Stanford educator who specializes in both K-12 and higher education as its new dean of the graduate school of education.

Pam Grossman is a professor of education at Stanford’s graduate school of education and leads the university’s “Center to Support Excellence in Teaching,” which focuses on improving the quality of K-12 teaching. She is committed to finding cross-disciplinary ways to help children who come from challenging backgrounds succeed in school, Penn said.

Her appointment could be key in Philadelphia where urban schools have struggled academically and financially.

Grossman, a graduate of Yale with a master's from the University of California, Berkeley, and a doctorate from Stanford, said in a statement that she looks forward to the appointment.

“Penn is a great research university located in the heart of Philadelphia,” she said in a statement. “This gives GSE unparalleled opportunities to work closely with local schools and educators. It also allows GSE to bring together talent and knowledge from the liberal arts and from Penn's other professional schools to engage in research and development around the kinds of support educators, families, schools and communities need to help children thrive in school.”

Grossman starts Jan. 1. She replaces Andy Porter, who has been dean since 2007.

Penn has been on a virtual dean spree in the last month. Grossman becomes the fourth dean that Penn has hired since late February. That's one-third of the universities deans.

 The first was Antonia Villarruel, a professor and associate dean at the University of Michigan, was named dean of the School of Nursing. She is an alumna of Penn’s nursing school and taught there in 1995-2000.

On March 17, Geoffrey Garrett was named dean of the Wharton School. He’s currently dean and professor of business in the Australian School of Business at the University of New South Wales and a former Wharton faculty member.

Last week, John L. Jackson Jr., a professor and senior adviser for diversity in the office of the provost, was named dean of Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice.

Grossman, who founded the teaching excellence center, focuses on improving teaching and learning at all levels and reaching across disciplinary boundaries, Penn said in its announcement. Most recently, she has studied teacher education in New York City and various paths to teacher certification.

“With her background, vision and proven leadership skills, Dr. Grossman is a great match for Penn and our Graduate School of Education as we advance our Penn Compact 2020 vision of becoming the model of an inclusive, integrated and impactful university," Penn President Amy Gutmann said in a statement. “Pam's professional career brilliantly blends service as both a K-12 teacher and a scholar at the university level, giving her particular insight into how schools of education can respond to the needs of diverse populations of educators.”

She has written on a variety of issues, including “the recruitment and training of teachers, the role of administrators in teacher retention, the relationship between teacher education and student achievement and the use of observation protocols for professional development,” Penn said in the announcement.

Early in her career, she worked as a basic skills teacher in New Haven, Conn. She later taught English at a high school in California and was a life skills teacher in an Upward Bound Program in Fairbanks, Alaska. She started her higher education career at the University of Washington, then moved to Stanford.