Claude Steele, dean of GSE, named UC-Berkeley provost

Jan. 14, 2014, 1:56 a.m.
Courtesy of Linda A. Cicero

Claude Steele, dean of the Graduate School of Education (GSE) and professor emeritus of psychology, was named the next executive vice chancellor and provost of UC-Berkeley on Monday.

Steele is expected to move across the Bay on March 31 while Deborah Stipek, professor of education, will return to her position as dean of the education school for 18 months starting April 1. Stipek served as dean of the School of Education from 2001 to 2011. A search for a permanent director will begin in the coming academic year.

To facilitate the transition process and assist Stipek, the newly created position of deputy dean will be filled by Eamonn Callan, professor of education.

As a researcher, Steele is perhaps best known for his work on stereotype threat, an experience in which people face anxiety about behaviors that support stereotypes about social or racial groups.

“I think their gain is our loss,” Stipek said of Steele’s departure.

The opportunity to work at a large-scale public institution with a mission of broad access and simultaneous excellence is what Steele found appealing in the Berkeley position. There, Steele will be overseeing academic programs, daily operations and the school’s budget. It is a familiar role for Steele, who served as Columbia University’s provost from 2009 to 2011.

When speaking of his goals for the new role, Steele recognized that Berkeley has suffered cutbacks that impede the school’s ability to fulfill its public responsibility.

“I think the overriding challenge at Berkeley is to improve its financial stability…for the years ahead,” Steele said.

He added that public institutions like Berkeley are increasingly in need of support from alumni and individuals interested in the future of higher education.

“The whole process of development, that kind of revenue needs to play a much bigger role in Berkeley going forward,” Steele said.

In addition to funding concerns, Steele said he plans to make progress in diversifying both the student body and the faculty at Berkeley.


Leaving home

Although Steele is looking forward to playing a major role in shaping the future of the school across the Bay, he admitted that the hardest part of accepting the position is leaving Stanford—a place he’s called home for over 20 years.

Steele joined the Stanford faculty in the Department of Psychology in 1991. Here, he served as chair of the Psychology Department, director of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity and director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Science.

When recalling his accomplishments, it is his research with graduate students that Steele said takes the number-one spot.

The future of the GSE

When Stipek returns to her role as dean of the GSE in April, she said she expects no dramatic changes from the direction set out by Steele. According to Steele, this includes a focus on the role of technology in education and work that expands the nation’s capacity to educate low-income students.

“I think the transition will be seamless because I have been in the job, I have relationships with many of the people who are in the larger GSE family and Claude and I are like-minded on what’s so important for a Graduate School of Education,” Stipek said.


Contact Ileana Najarro at inajarro ‘at’ stanford .edu.

Ileana Najarro is the Managing Editor of News at The Stanford Daily. She previously worked as a News Desk Editor and Staff Writer.

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