Dean of Graduate School of Education to retire next summer

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Judith Warren Little, dean of the campus Graduate School of Education, will retire next June after serving five years in the position, according to an announcement made to the campus Wednesday.

Little was the first woman to serve as the graduate school’s dean, although there were female interim deans before her. After leaving her position, she said, she intends to dedicate more time to academic pursuits such as projects of research and educational innovation.

“Being dean has required my full-time commitment, leaving me little scope for the scholarly work that I still aspire to complete during my career,” Little said in a statement sent out to her colleagues at the graduate school.

Since beginning her career as dean in 2010, Little has led multiple successful philanthropic efforts, which have raised $15 million in contributions for the graduate school, as well as interdepartmental collaborations.

Little has also attracted more students to the graduate school’s undergraduate minor, established a master’s degree concentration in education for the health professions in partnership with UCSF and led plans for a new campus building that will allow for partnerships among the Graduate School of Education, the Department of Psychology and the School of Public Health, said Claude Steele, executive vice chancellor and provost, in the announcement.

“I think what really marks her period as dean is how she guided the school through an extremely difficult financial time,” said Michael Ranney, a professor who teaches in the Graduate School of Education. “The economic crisis triggered a belt-tightening at the university in all departments, including ours. I think getting us through a time like that is quite an accomplishment.”

Little’s retirement announcement was met with an impressive ovation from the graduate school’s faculty, according to Ranney.

The graduate school will begin the search for the dean’s successor in the coming weeks.

During the rest of her tenure as dean, Little hopes the school will gain a clear sense of direction through its regularly scheduled annual program review.

“What I would hope for is someone who really embraces the full mission of the school of education,” Little said. “That includes both cutting-edge research and contributions to the practice and innovation in education and of professional preparation.”

Aside from her role as dean, Little has also focused her research on professional development for educators and teachers’ collegial relationships throughout her career. She has also served as chair of the board of the National Writing Project, a network dedicated to improving the teaching of writing, and on the board of directors of the National Academy of Education.

Her departure marks the end of nearly three decades with UC Berkeley, where she began as a professor shortly after receiving a doctorate in sociology from the University of Colorado in 1978.

“Dr. Little’s successes — in bolstering the Graduate School of Education’s offerings and creating new ones, in fundraising for the school, in experimenting with new technology and new pedagogies, and in collaborating with other departments on campus — will leave a lasting mark on the GSE and the field of education,” Steele said in a statement.

Chloee Weiner is the lead campus life reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @_chloeew .