Katharine O. Strunk will serve as dean of the Graduate School of Education beginning July 1, according to an announcement from Penn President Liz Magill.
Strunk will follow GSE Dean Pam Grossman, whose eight-year term ends on June 30. She will begin her term amid the completion of the landmark $36 million expansion of the GSE building, which began under Grossman's tenure and will centralize GSE facilities.
Strunk is a professor at Michigan State University with focuses in educational policy and economics. She is the inaugural director of Michigan State’s Education Policy Innovation Collaborative — the Michigan Department of Education's strategic research partner.
Citing GSE's "commitment to real-world impact," in the announcement, Strunk wrote that she is excited to begin collaborating with GSE students, faculty, alumni, and staff in the coming months.
"I look forward to working together with our partners in Philadelphia, nationally, and around the world in service of GSE’s mission to expand educational access, especially for those underserved by society," Strunk wrote.
Strunk will follow Grossman, who appointed more than one-third of the current standing faculty, doubled research grants, and has grown partnerships between GSE and West Philadelphia’s schools, according to Penn Today. Under her leadership, GSE was ranked No. 1 in the U.S. News & World Report's ranking of graduate education programs for the past two years and was in the top five for seven consecutive years.
“Pam has been a transformative dean of GSE,” Interim Provost Beth Winkelstein wrote in the announcement. “We are deeply grateful for her distinguished leadership, and we look forward to working closely with Katharine as she and the Penn GSE community continue this exceptional momentum into the future.”
The search for a new dean was led by an ad hoc Consultative Committee, which was formed on Sept. 21 last year by Magill and Winkelstein. The committee comprised 18 members, spanning faculty, students, alumni, and University administrators primarily from GSE, as well as consultants from leadership consulting service Heidrick & Struggles.
Nominations for the position were accepted by the committee until Dec. 9 last year.
Previously, Strunk served as the president of the Association for Education Finance and Policy, and her work with Michigan State's EPIC program informed COVID-19 recovery efforts in schools statewide.
“Katharine Strunk’s career has been built around the concept of ‘research with consequence,’" Magill wrote in the announcement. "She has a long and distinguished track record and an exciting vision for the role of educators and education schools in research universities and society. Her mission-driven leadership is an ideal match for Penn’s top-ranked Graduate School of Education. Penn, GSE, and Philadelphia are extremely fortunate to have her.”