School of Education’s Levine to step down

Photo: Dean Harold Levine chats with students in a classroom.
Dean Harold Levine talks with students at West Sacramento Early College Prep charter school, 2009. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

Harold Levine announced this week that he will step down as dean of the School of Education at the end of this academic year, when he completes his third term — having held the post for 15 years. He’s the founding dean, the only dean the school has ever had.

Levine’s career with UC spans 40 years on two campuses. He was a professor and administrator at UCLA before being appointed in mid-2001 to lead UC Davis’ newly established School of Education, which before that had been a division.

“I am proud to have been part of the development and extraordinary growth of our School of Education,” Levine wrote in a letter to faculty, staff and students. Levine, a professor as well as dean, did not specify his plan for the future, saying only: “I look forward to what the next 15 years will bring.”

Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said: “As the School of Education’s founding dean and leader for 15 years, Harold has helped put UC Davis on the map as an innovator and leader in educational scholarship and research.

“His leadership at UC Davis and his important contributions to our students, faculty and staff will be missed. He has led the school with vision and integrity, and we are fortunate to be able to build on his many achievements.”  

Ralph J. Hexter, provost and executive vice chancellor, also sent a letter to faculty, staff and students: “The chancellor and I are deeply grateful for Dean Levine’s dedicated service to the campus. During his time as founding dean, Dean Levine has led the school with vision, a commitment to excellence and his own personal integrity.”

The provost said Levine has overseen tremendous growth in the school’s scope and stature, into a school that that has a highly visible and broad impact across the state.

Hexter expressed his gratitude for Levine’s agreeing to stay on as dean until his successor is in place.

A dean's pride

Levine’s letter showed his enormous pride in all the school has accomplished:

• “We have almost tripled the size of the senate faculty, and have added outstanding staff in all areas of the SOE. We have developed the combined Credential/M.A. and CANDEL (Capital Area North Doctorate in Educational Leadership), reconfigured our M.A., re-established the agriculture education credential in the SOE, and have enjoyed extensive growth in our undergraduate program.”

• “Faculty and staff research continues to grow at a remarkable pace, and even a brief look at our website demonstrates how broad our research expertise has become. Our faculty continue to win both university and national awards and fellowships.”

• “Our students become more outstanding with each passing year. Our U.S. News & World Report ranking has climbed from the low-70s to 38 this past year; and, while the number is not especially important in and of itself, it does reflect the growing recognition held by our peers of the high quality research and teaching we do here.”

• “The school’s endowment, originally at just over $20,000 is now over $2.5 million, including its first endowed chair.”

He also cited the activity and impact of the school’s research and innovation centers, and partnerships near and far, with the Los Rios Community College District and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, for example. The school also is a partner in the West Sacramento Early College Prep charter school, which he said “continues to make deep impacts in the lives of underserved students.”

A school 'without walls'

Levine cited three attributes of the School of Education that are most important to him:

• “As one of our colleagues reminded us at a recent faculty meeting, our goal was to build a school ‘without walls,’ and I think we have done just that — ideas, scholarship, friendships extend across the school without the artificial and often unproductive boundaries of departments or other intellectual silos.”

• “Second, we are a group of faculty, staff and students who believe that our work, first and foremost, must address the inequities that are all too familiar, and pernicious, in public education.”

• “And finally, we are a faculty who conducts the deep and meaningful research that befits a UC faculty, but also a group of scholars who operate in the real worlds of classrooms, schools, informal learning settings, professional development events, legislatures, and so forth.  Our presence in these settings, and in so many ways, makes the research we do both meaningful and real.”

At UCLA, Levine worked as a research associate in the Neuropsychiatric Institute, 1974-79, then joined the faculty as an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Education (later the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies). He advanced through the ranks to professor, and along the way served as a division head, department chair and interim dean.

His degrees are in anthropology: Bachelor of Arts, Northwestern University, and Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania. His research interests and publications deal with a wide range of organizations and cultural practices, which he studies with qualitative, observational methods.

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