In Memoriam

Portrait of Hugh Petrie.

Hugh Petrie

A leader remembered for his innovative reimagining of GSE

Hugh Petrie, former dean who reorganized GSE, was 82 when he died in August after a struggle with a rare muscle disease. He is remembered by colleagues for his thoughtful intelligence and skill at leading reform.

“He was marvelous. He was somebody who did his job so well you didn’t know what going on behind the scenes,” said Stephen Jacobson, a distinguished professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy.

Petrie, a native of Colorado, retired to the state in 1999. He came to UB in 1981 as dean of what was then known as the Faculty of Educational Studies. He consolidated departments. A new name, Graduate School of Education, was chosen to reflect the professional nature of the school.

Petrie was a founding member of the reform-minded Holmes Partnership, 1987-1997, a consortium of 96 research institutions with professional education programs formed in response to troubling trends, including the elimination of schools of education. To combat this, the group set out to change teacher education and strengthen connections—with teachers, administrators and the community.

“The idea was to raise the quality of future teachers,” said Jacobson who worked with others to create the Leadership Initiative for Tomorrow’s Schools, a program for principals and administrators. “He made it easier to do the work we were brought on to do.”

Petrie’s training reflected the varied interests he used to lead. He earned bachelor’s degrees in business and engineering from the University of Colorado, and a PhD in philosophy from Stanford University. He studied math and philosophy at the University of Manchester, England on a Fulbright scholarship.

The Petries organized a February “Banishthe- blues-and-blahs Brunch,” which became an annual winter tradition at the Center for Tomorrow. He wanted people from different departments to gather, get to know each other and have a shared knowledge of where GSE was headed. “That was something people looked forward to every year,” said Hodges.