Ralph Fessler, director since 1983 of the Graduate Division of Education in the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education, has been appointed interim dean of the school.
Fessler, who also has been the school's associate dean for academic affairs and, for the past 16 years, a professor of education, succeeds Dean Stanley C. Gabor, who will retire Sept. 1 after 17 years as head of SPSBE, which until July was known as the School of Continuing Studies.
"Ralph Fessler has a long and distinguished record of service to the school," said President William R. Brody. "His leadership of the Graduate Division of Education has earned him the respect of his colleagues both within the school and among colleagues in related fields across the university."
Provost Steven Knapp praised Fessler's "impressive grasp of the range of the school's programs" and "profound commitment to its mission."
"The school is going through a period of rapid growth and refocusing, as signaled by its recent name change," Knapp said. "Ralph Fessler has the wisdom, experience and commitment to excellence that will ensure the school's stability as it moves through this transitional phase."
Fessler said he looks forward "to working with the excellent faculty and staff in SPSBE to continue the tradition of excellence that has been established under Stanley Gabor's leadership."
"This is an exciting time in our history as our school embraces a new name and a new MBA degree, and continues our participation in teacher education reform activities and selective undergraduate programs," he said. "I feel privileged to serve as interim dean during this important period in our history."
Now celebrating its 90th anniversary, the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education is the third oldest division of the university. It now has nearly 4,800 students taking courses for credit. Another 2,500 students take noncredit history, literature, science, music, language, writing and humanities courses in the school's Odyssey program, and some 500 seniors participate in noncredit lectures, seminars and workshops in the school's Evergreen Society program.
Fessler, who received his bachelor's, master's and doctorate at the University of Wisconsin at Madison (and once was a public school teacher in that city), has specialized at Hopkins in teacher development, alternative approaches to teacher education, integrating K-12 and teacher education curricula, and alternative approaches to leadership development.
He currently is involved in professional development school partnerships with the public school systems in Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County; implementing the redesign of teacher education in Maryland; integrating problem-based learning into teacher education curriculum; and participating in the Baltimore City public schools' Aspiring Leaders program.
Fessler also was instrumental in the creation of the new Center for Reading Excellence, a unique partnership between the Graduate Division of Education; the Hopkins-affiliated Kennedy Krieger Institute, a renowned neurological research and rehabilitation hospital for children; and the Maryland State Department of Education. The CRE will help teachers apply the latest developments in brain research and technology to teaching reading in the classroom.
A nationwide search for a permanent SPSBE dean is expected to continue for some months, Knapp said.