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Stanford Education Dean Claude Steele named UC Berkeley provost

L.A. Cicero Claude Steele

Claude Steele, dean of Stanford's Graduate School of Education, has been named provost at UC Berkeley.

Stanford University Graduate School of Education Dean Claude Steele has been named the next executive vice chancellor and provost of the University of California, Berkeley, officials from the public university announced Monday.

Pending confirmation by the UC Board of Regents, Steele would become UC Berkeley's chief academic officer and leading senior executive responsible for managing its academic programs, budget and daily operations on March 31.

Stanford Provost John Etchemendy has appointed Professor Deborah Stipek to serve as the dean of the Graduate School of Education (GSE), a position she had held for 10 years prior to Steele's arrival. Stipek will assume the leadership of the school on April 1, for a term of 18 months; the university will launch a search for Steele's successor next academic year.

Eamonn Callan, professor of education and associate dean of student affairs, has been appointed to the newly created position of deputy dean, effective immediately.

"We are sorry to see Claude leave, but are so pleased that UC Berkeley, a national treasure, will have such an outstanding provost to help guide and maintain its excellence," Etchemendy said.

Steele, an internationally known expert in social psychology, has been on the faculty at Stanford for more than 20 years, since joining the Department of Psychology in 1991. His research here identified a phenomenon known as "stereotype threat," showing how negative perceptions about a particular group's academic abilities can undermine the group members' academic performance, whether it involves women taking science exams or African Americans in college coursework.

The discovery of stereotype threat led educators to focus more on how a school's social environment affects student achievement. And it established Steele as a national leader in efforts to improve minorities' and women's entry to and success in higher education.

"My many years at Stanford as both a researcher and administrator have given me a preparation that I hope can be of help to Berkeley as it takes on some of its important challenges, one example of which is achieving the access and diversity that are so central to its public mission," Steele said. "As the nation's top public university, it is an important stage on which to wrestle with these and other broad challenges to higher education. It has been wrenching to even think about leaving Stanford and the Graduate School of Education – the place my family and I call home – but in the end, the opportunity to directly address issues of such longstanding concern to me proved hard to resist. And I know the GSE will continue in both its preeminence as a graduate school of education and its national leadership in all aspects of education."

After serving for two years as provost at Columbia University, in 2011 Steele became the I. James Quillen Dean of the Graduate School of Education, overseeing the school known for combining top education research and scholarship with professional programs to prepare educators, scholars, policymakers and executives.

Steele worked closely with faculty to identify two priorities for the school: enhancing education for underserved children and advancing the use and development of new technologies to improve learning. He created new faculty positions in these areas and launched two initiatives – Education's Digital Future and the Workshop on Poverty, Inequality and Education – to foster innovative and more critical thinking about these subjects. Both EDF and PIE, with their weekly classes, panels and lectures, routinely draw crowds of faculty and students from throughout the university and business and education leaders from the Bay Area and beyond.

Also under Steele's direction, the GSE made its first-ever joint appointment with the Department of Physics, recruiting Nobel laureate Carl Wieman last year to join the Stanford faculty. And it developed a strong partnership with the Office of the Vice Provost for Online Learning, with Steele enabling GSE faculty and students to take on key leadership positions at VPOL and helping to establish its Lytics Lab to conduct research on online learning.

Steele also increased financial aid for doctoral students and strengthened the GSE's connections to local schools. He recently renewed and expanded a partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District that offers a new approach to integrating more deeply research and practice to improve academic outcomes. In addition, Steele has helped to make arrangements for the East Palo Alto Academy, a charter school affiliated with Stanford, to move to a new building, and he has taken steps to revamp its management.

Steele said he's confident that Stipek and Callan will continue the school's progress. "I am leaving the GSE in the hands of some of the most capable faculty and administrators on the planet," he said.

Stipek previously served as dean from 2001 through 2011. One of the nation's leading experts in early childhood and elementary education, she was appointed in October to a new endowed chair, the Judy Koch Professorship of Education, established to support research in that field.

The Graduate School of Education has 55 faculty members and enrolls about 400 graduate students and is preparing the next generation of education professors, teachers and education leaders. Its faculty draws from a variety of disciplines to produce scholarship and research that shapes educational theory, practice and policy. The GSE partners with schools and other organizations serving youth nationwide. It offers the Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Arts and Master of Arts with teaching credential, as well as three joint degrees in public policy, law and business.