Today’s Graduate School of Education (GSE) began in 1931, with Leslie Cummings as its first dean. It quickly became and has remained primarily a graduate school. Research in the field of education was fostered by the development of the doctor of education degree and the consequent expansion of the faculty.
The post-WWII years saw an increase in the number of students and programs. Robert Fisk became the dean in 1953 and was charged with making the school prosper. A significant accomplishment during this time was the $2 million dollar “Four University Project” grant (between Buffalo, Cornell, Rochester and Syracuse). In addition to encouraging new approaches to teacher selection and teacher education, this grant helped advance the school’s educational administration program.
Another milestone was the creation of the rehabilitation counseling program, initiated by a 1954 grant. The program was designed to meet the needs of a population that had limited access to educational services. Under the direction of Marceline Jacques, rehabilitation counseling first specialized in the rehabilitation of people with mental and physical disabilities, and later alcohol and drug addiction. In 1974, the federally funded Regional Rehabilitation Continuing Education Program (RRCEP) was formed at UB to serve rehabilitation needs at the federal, regional, state and local levels. At that time, it was one of 10 RRCEPs set up nationally by the U.S. Department of Education. The long-term success of the rehabilitation training programs in GSE eventually led to new grant awards and the development of a Center for Rehabilitation Synergy in 2006, focused on excellence in education and in human resource and organizational development in the field of rehabilitation.
The school’s current program for teacher education began in 1962. An increased interest in the improvement of teacher training led to the formation of the Buffalo Research Institute on Education for Teaching (BRIET) in 1988. Led by Catherine Cornbleth, BRIET’s mission included studying teaching methods and preparation; planning and implementing programs to enhance pre-service and continuing education of teachers; and researching professional development and support services for schools. Since its inception, the teacher education program has helped thousands of students become New York State certified teachers. In 1999, BRIET was renamed the Teacher Education Institute. In 2006, GSE’s teacher education program obtained accreditation from the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC).
The 1960s and 1970s brought other significant changes. In 1962, the University at Buffalo transformed from a private to a public institution after its merger with the State University of New York. The School of Education became the Faculty of Educational Studies in 1966, and the increasing numbers of students and faculty facilitated the school’s move from Foster Hall on South Campus to Baldy Hall on North Campus in 1973.
Under Hugh Petrie’s leadership (1981–97), faculty reorganized the school and the name, Graduate School of Education, was chosen to reflect the professional nature of the school. In addition to improving upon its long-standing programs, GSE solidified its teacher education program, learning and technology initiatives, and school-university partnerships.
Jacquelyn Mitchell (1997–99) oversaw a comprehensive strategic plan during her brief time as dean. Building on GSE’s diverse strengths, she provided the school with a roadmap for the new millennium. Mitchell focused faculty efforts on urban education and technology, areas where she envisioned GSE playing increased leadership roles.
During Mary Gresham's tenure (1999–2012), GSE expanded its academic mission to support school-based research throughout the pre K–16 community, and embraced a variety of international education initiatives. Her leadership helped develop relationships and create partnerships with universities around the world, and to articulate a vision for the future of the GSE.
In 2001, GSE introduced its first fully online program in general education. Enrolling students with diverse backgrounds and experiences into our Online Programs is a unique global outreach experience that GSE was, and continues to be, committed to expanding. Today, our school offers over 20 fully online programs leading to doctoral and master's degrees, and advanced certificates.
GSE began serving the island city-state of Singapore in 2002 with its school counseling master's degree program, in collaboration with the Center for American Education in Singapore. During its 10 years, the program graduated 5 cohorts of students, and demonstrated that an American model of education can be successfully tailored to meet the unique needs of Singaporean schools.
Library education at UB had its first incarnation from 1919–44, when it graduated approximately 350 students. In 1942, the school found itself at a growth juncture and sought expansion funding prior to its bid for accreditation from the American Library Association. Chancellor Capen was unable to provide university funding and reluctantly decided to phase out the program. The library education program was re-launched in 1966, accredited in 1972 and in 2000, joined the Department of Communication in UB’s former School of Informatics. In fall 2007, the Department of Library and Information Studies became the fourth department in GSE, enhancing the natural connection between education and libraries. In 2019, the department was renamed the Department of Information Science.
A generous gift from GSE alumna Jean Alberti (PhD ’70, Educational Psychology) established the Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention in 2011. The mission of the center is to reduce bullying abuse in schools and in the community by contributing knowledge and providing evidence-based tools to effectively change the language, attitudes and behaviors of educators, parents, students and society. The center is a national resource on the prevention of bullying and other antisocial behaviors among school children, as well as provides research and information that address these behaviors.
As the eighth dean in the history of GSE, Jaekyung Lee (2013–17) led an ambitious vision for advancing the school's national and international prominence in research, graduate education and educational policy. The guiding principles behind this vision were the Four Pillars of Distinction: (1) Evidence-based Educational Improvement Across the Lifespan, (2) Pedagogy of Inquiry, Engagement and Impact, (3) Lifelong Support for Students and Alumni, and (4) Interprofessional Collaboration and Global Partnerships.
Suzanne Rosenblith became the ninth dean of the Graduate School of Education in July 2017.