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Stanford education school celebrates 100 years of innovation, impact and excellence

The Stanford Teacher Education Program launched in 1959 with a $900,000 gift from the Ford Foundation. Mary Paulson, MA '60,
The Stanford Teacher Education Program launched in 1959 with a $900,000 gift from the Ford Foundation. Mary Paulson, MA '60, a member of the inaugural STEP cohort, taught for decades in Palo Alto schools. (Photo: Stanford News Service)

Stanford education school celebrates 100 years of innovation, impact and excellence

The school is planning a year of centennial programming and an interactive website to mark the milestone.

Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE) marks its centennial in 2017 with a year of special programming, exhibits and activities that celebrate the school’s worldwide impact on teaching and learning and create opportunities to advance new ideas to improve education in years to come.

Festivities kick off on April 20 with a community party at the School of Education building on Lasuen Mall. Events and activities will continue on campus and online throughout the year to provide engagement and learning opportunities for students, faculty, alumni and the entire Stanford community and beyond.

“Education is a huge enterprise that touches everyone’s lives. What we’re celebrating is a rich history of ideas and discoveries that shaped education and led decades of thinking in the field,” said Dean Dan Schwartz. “Our centennial gives us an opportunity to shine a light on this extraordinary past while also considering what the future holds.”

Education was one of the founding departments of Jane and Leland Stanford’s new university when it opened in 1891 – and one of the most popular. On March 30, 1917, Stanford trustees voted to elevate the department to a school.

Stanford education scholars and alumni have transformed how people teach and learn around the globe and have worked to make great teaching and learning accessible to all people, both in and out of the formal classroom.

Drawing from nearly two-dozen degree concentrations, research centers and collaborative programs, GSE alumni become teachers, scholars, activists, founders, policymakers, technologists and heads of state. Faculty continually add new knowledge to the discipline with examinations across all subject areas from sociology and economics to history and neuroscience, and collaborate with school partners to improve practice.

In 2013, the school rechristened itself the Graduate School of Education in line with its history of advanced training and its unique integration of research, theory and practice for the betterment of humankind.

Centennial celebrations on campus include the May 23 Cubberley Lecture by acclaimed young-adult author Jacqueline Woodson; special alumni experiences during the Reunion Homecoming in October; and a panel looking forward to education’s next 100 years. Many of the events will be free and open to the public.

A GSE centennial website will reveal the school’s legacy of impact and discovery, and will invite people to share their own stories about the importance of education in their lives. It will also include a list of events and ways to get involved in the celebration.

Groups within the school are developing additional events that are still unfolding, and the entire GSE community is invited to help take part. Special events hope to engage families and the broader Bay Area educator community.

The Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP), founded in 1959, plans a centennial version of its annual Football Walk. The GSE’s BeWell employee wellness team is planning centennial-themed health and fitness events. The Stanford Historical Society will explore GSE history with a free public program in early 2018.

A new exhibit in the School of Education lobby outside Cubberley Auditorium is also being installed later this spring. The displays will highlight and celebrate the people and ideas – past to present – that distinguish the school. Some also will include interactive features. (The murals, which previously adorned the portico, were taken down professionally and are being safely stored and preserved.)

“The centennial is a celebration of the power of education, and the GSE’s role in advancing learning, teaching and research.  The centennial is also a time to reflect on the great challenges that have and will continue to confront education,” Schwartz said.  “We hope throughout the year to engage a variety of voices in understanding the complexities of education.  These conversations will, no doubt, point to new ideas and actions for inaugurating the next century of work.”

For more information about the anniversary celebration and to contribute your ideas, please visit and click “Stay Updated.” You can also follow on social media: #StanfordEd100.

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