Judith Warren Little named dean of Graduate School of Education

Judith Warren Little, the Carol Liu Chair in Educational Policy at the University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education, has been appointed the school’s dean, effective July 1.

Judith Warren Little

Judith Warren Little (Anne Hamersky photo)

“We are grateful to professor Little for her willingness to assume the deanship of the GSE in these challenging times,” said George Breslauer, UC Berkeley executive vice chancellor and provost, in making the announcement today (Monday, April 26). “She possesses the unusual combination of interpersonal skills, organizational talent, high professional standing, commitment to top quality in both research and teaching, and determination to make a difference that we look for in our deans.  I look forward to working with her to advance the goals of the school.”

Little, who has been at the Graduate School of Education since 1987, will replace P. David Pearson, the school’s dean since 2001. She will become the seventh woman currently serving as a UC Berkeley dean and the first woman to hold the education school’s deanship on a permanent basis.

“I can’t imagine a better match,” said Pearson. “Judith is equally as comfortable in public school classrooms as she is in college lecture halls. She brings a wide range of intellectual interests, deep professional expertise and impeccable ethical standards to a demanding but rewarding job. And she has lots of support from our students and faculty, including me.”

Little earned her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Colorado in 1978 and has built an international reputation as a leader in research about schools as professional environments and how teachers learn to improve their teaching. She was the Graduate School of Education’s associate dean from 1992-1994, and in her 23 years there has held several leadership positions.

An elected member of the National Academy of Education — one of eight Academy members on the education school’s faculty — she has received numerous awards, including being named a fellow of the American Educational Research Association in 2009, the Frank H. Klassen Award for scholarly contributions in teacher education and the Spencer Foundation Faculty Mentor Award for 1996-98.

“There’s a sense of urgency in the country and in the state around improving outcomes for students,” Little said during an interview in her Tolman Hall office. “The GSE has had, and will continue to have, a leadership role in every aspect of an educated society — from early childhood development to full citizenship.”

Little with student

Judith Warren Little with doctoral student Sarah Woulfin. (Anne Hamersky photo)

“We have a stellar faculty, and our programs of teacher and leadership preparation are widely recognized as outstanding,” she said. “Our students tend to be practiced professionals who are really committed to making a difference.”

Little acknowledged the “daunting and exciting” challenges she will face leading the school through the state’s current fiscal crisis in an era of heightened public attention to K­12 educational reform, as well as the need for increased financial support for the school’s next generation of graduate students. To meet those challenges, she said, she counts on the education school’s spirit of collaboration and its wealth of professional talent.

That sense of collegiality, optimism and professionalism has not been lost on Little’s current and former students.

“Like the many students who have benefited from her advising, I was deeply inspired by Judith’s professionalism, her scholarly contributions and her commitment to developing the next generations of education researchers and practitioners,” said Jennifer Lin Russell, who earned her Ph.D. as well as the education school’s  outstanding dissertation award in 2007, with Little as her dissertation chair, and now is an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburg School of Education. “Judith’s selection as dean is a fitting recognition of her tireless dedication to the students of the GSE.”

As dean, Little will earn an annual salary of $205,000.

For more information, see:

• Judith Warren Little’s website
• Graduate School of Education website