Kathryn O Strunk has been appointed dean of the Graduate School of Education in Pennsylvania

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Catherine O. Strunk (Courtesy of Michigan State University)

Kathryn O Strunk was appointed dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, as of July 1, 2023. Announced today by Pennsylvania State President Liz Magill.

Strunk, an award-winning mixed-methods scholar, is the Clifford E. Erickson Distinguished Chair in Education at Michigan State University, where she is Professor of Education Policy and Associate Professor of Economics. She is the inaugural director of the Michigan Education Policy Innovation Collaborative (EPIC) Foundation, which is the strategic research partner of the Michigan Department of Education. She is an expert on teacher labor markets, school and district improvement and accountability policies, and efforts to enhance student achievement.

“Katherine Strunk’s career has been built around the concept of ‘research with results,’” said Magill. “She has a distinguished track record and an exciting vision for the role of educators and teaching schools in research universities and society. Her mission-driven leadership is an ideal match for the Penn Graduate School of Education. Between, GSE, and Philadelphia They are very lucky to have her.”

Strunk is the past president of the Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP). Prior to joining Michigan State, she served from 2009-2017 on the faculty of USC’s Rossier School of Education and the Saul Price School of Public Policy. She began her career at the University of California at Davis College of Education, serving on the faculty from 2007 to 2009.

Strunk is nationally known for its partner-led research and leadership, which has brought collaborative, multi-modality scholarship to bear on pressing questions facing lifelong education and educators.

“I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity to work with the faculty, staff, students, and alumni of Penn’s Graduate School of Education,” said Strunk. Penn GSE is recognized as a leader for its collaborative and evidence-based efforts to improve policy and practice. This approach and commitment to real-world impact has never been more important. I look forward to working with our partners in Philadelphia, nationally, and around the world in service of GSE’s mission to expand access to education, especially for those who do not have access to community services. “

Strunk has collaborated extensively with district and state policymakers, including working with the Los Angeles Unified School District and the California and Michigan departments of education, to assist decision makers in crafting, designing, and reviewing policy. As part of her work with EPIC, Strunk served as the sole researcher on Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Advisory Council on Student Wellness, which has informed schools’ COVID-19 recovery efforts statewide. She has also advised on several key school financing and governance reforms.

Her work has been supported by state and federal contracts and grants as well as by charitable partners. She has raised over $21 million in outside funding over the course of her career. Her research has been published in leading peer-reviewed journals as well as in numerous policy reports written to serve the improvement of policy and practice. She is the co-author of The One Best System Challenge (2020, Harvard Education Press), which provides a comparative analysis of the set of urban education governance reforms known collectively as the “portfolio management model.”

Strunk’s work pays particular attention to the ways in which policies and programs impact traditionally disadvantaged communities.

Vice President Designate John L. Jackson, Jr. Walter H. Annenberg School of Communication. “From her successful partnerships with LA Unified and the State of Michigan to her advocacy for evidence-based policies and practices at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Katherine has long been a champion for diversity, equity, and inclusion in all forms.”

Issues of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion are also Strunk’s center of command and service. As president of the AEFP, Strunk established the organization’s first permanent committee of the Board of Directors dedicated to these values. She and her leadership team develop programming to support AEFP members of color as well as those who are first-generation college students and researchers, who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, who hail from international contexts and conduct research. She has a proven and successful track record of promoting diversity in faculty recruitment and retention.

Strunk holds a Ph.D. She holds a master’s degree in educational administration and policy analysis, a master’s degree in economics from Stanford University, and a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Princeton University.

Strunk succeeds Pam Grossman, a distinguished scholar who has served as dean of GSE since 2015. Grossman, a member of the National Academy of Education and a leading expert on teacher preparation and teacher quality, has greatly enhanced GSE’s partnership with Philadelphia schools, including school-specific collaborations with neighboring Leah and Ben Schools Alexander. Under Grossman’s leadership, Penn launched GSE catalyst @ binCenter for global educational innovation. The school has deepened its partnership with the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Foundation. Family Foundation, including the creation of the new school McGraw Center for Educational Leadership and housing the prestigious McGraw Prize in Education. It is also nearing completion in an exciting structural expansion.

“Pam was a transformational dean at GSE,” he said. Temporary Brigadier General Beth A. Winkelstein. “We are deeply grateful for her outstanding leadership, and look forward to working closely with Katherine as she and the Penn GSE community continue this exceptional momentum into the future.”

In announcing Strunk’s appointment, Magill also thanked Provost Designate Jackson, who chaired the GSE Dean’s Search Advisory Committee, as well as the members of the committee: “I am grateful to Provost Designate Jackson and the Advisory Committee for their diligent work throughout the search process, and their commitment to finding the right leader for Penn GSE.”

In Philadelphia, Strunk will join her husband, Ryan, and their 11-year-old twin boys.

“I am particularly drawn to Penn and GSE because of their mission to engage with and serve the local, national, and global Penn communities,” Strunk said. “I am excited to build on the inspiring work of Dean Grossman and the amazing faculty, staff, students, and alumni at GSE in the pursuit of ‘research with results’ and in providing programs that truly impact the communities around us.”