New Deans at GSE and Penn Carey Law

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And a former dean returns on an interim basis at Annenberg.


To fill open deanships at the Graduate School of Education, Penn Carey Law School, and the Annenberg School for Communication, Penn has turned to a scholar new to the University, a current faculty member, and a former leader of the School, respectively.

At GSE, Katherine O. Strunk, the Clifford E. Erickson Distinguished Chair in Education at Michigan State University, was named to succeed Pam Grossman, who had served as dean since 2015, effective July 1. An expert on teacher labor markets, school and district improvement and accountability policies, and efforts to boost student achievement, Strunk has collaborated with school district and state policymakers in Michigan, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, and has advised on numerous major school funding and governance reforms.

“Katharine Strunk’s career has been built around the concept of ‘research with consequence,’” said Penn President Liz Magill in announcing the appointment. “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.”

A graduate of Princeton and Stanford, Strunk was on the faculty of the University of California at Davis School of Education from 2007 to 2009 and the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education and Sol Price School of Public Policy from 2009 to 2017 before moving to Michigan State.

Strunk has raised more than $21 million in outside funding from government and philanthropic sources to support her work, and she has been widely published in peer-reviewed journals and in reports aimed at improving policies and programs, with a particular focus on impacts to the most traditionally underserved communities.

“I could not be more excited about this opportunity,” Strunk said. “Penn GSE is known 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 than today. 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.”

Incoming law dean Sophia Z. Lee, whose appointment also began on July 1, has been on the Penn Law faculty since 2009. A professor of law with a secondary appointment in history who specializes in constitutional and administrative law, she served as deputy dean from 2015 to 2017 to her predecessor, Theodore W. Ruger, who is returning to the faculty after an eight-year tenure as dean.

Magill called Lee “a proven leader and a consensus builder” who “embodies Penn Carey Law’s core values” and is “the right leader at the right time to elevate [the School’s] status to even greater heights.”

A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and of Yale University, Lee has written on the role of administrative agencies in shaping constitutional law, civil rights and labor challenges to workplace discrimination, and conservative legal movements in the post-New Deal era.

“I look forward to working together to build on the law school’s defining strengths, ensure that we remain at the forefront of scholarly excellence, and prepare our graduates for fulfilling lives of practice, leadership, scholarship, and service at the highest levels,” Lee said in the announcement. 

Michael X. Delli Carpini C’75 G’75, the Oscar H. Gandy Emeritus Professor of Communication and Democracy at Annenberg, has the longest tenure with the University—as an alumnus, faculty member, Annenberg dean from 2003 to 2018, and inaugural faculty director of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Paideia Program.

His term in office this time around is likely to be brief. When Dean John L. Jackson Jr. departed Annenberg to become Penn Provost on June 1 [“Gazetteer,” May|Jun 2023], Magill asked Delli Carpini to step in while the search for a permanent replacement is completed, possibly by this fall. “Time and again,” Magill said, “Michael has answered the call of service.”

Delli Carpini called his return a “small way to repay” the debt he owes Penn “from my time as a first-generation undergraduate student to over 20 years as a faculty member and dean,” and said he looked forward “to working again with the school’s great faculty, staff, and students.” —JP

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