Graduating with Honors

In its Nearly Three Decades, the Graduate School of Education (GSE) Has Been Guided and Grown By Superb Stewards

July 14, 2021
collage of the deans of Touro\'s Graduate School of Education. Left to Right Dr. H. Carl Haywood; Dr. Anthony Polemeni; Dr. Lamar Miller; Dr. Arnold Spinner; and current dean, Dr. Jacob Easley II
(L-R) Dr. H. Carl Haywood; Dr. Anthony Polemeni; Dr. Lamar Miller; Dr. Arnold Spinner; Dr. Jacob Easley II.

When Dr. H. Carl Haywood, an interna­tionally renowned scholar in the fields of psychology and education, and the founder and the first dean of the Graduate School of Education, passed away in October 2020, he left behind an in­delible legacy.

Before joining Touro in 1993, Dr. Haywood’s illustri­ous career included serving as professor of neurol­ogy and director of the John F. Kennedy Center for Research on Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. In his research and writings, he advocated the ideas of cognitive education, the no­tion that education should not only provide students with subject-domain knowledge, but promote the students’ cognitive and metacognitive development. Toward that philosophy, Dr. Haywood founded and became the first president of the International Asso­ciation for Cognitive Education and Psychology.

As dean of GSE for seven years, he laid the scholarly and practical foundation, but since his retirement in 2000, Touro’s subsequent deans each have added incalculable knowledge and added to the School’s excellent reputation, building it into a powerhouse in the field of graduate education.

In 2001, Dr. Anthony Polemeni, who modestly referred to himself as “a simple Italian,” was any­thing but when he was named the School’s dean. He had been a monk, worked for the New York State Education Department and was a highly successful international businessman. He used his considerable fundraising skills to create new graduate programs (Teaching Literacy, TESOL, School Leadership, among others). Under his stewardship, enrollment exploded—from 500 to 5,000—making Touro the largest graduate school of education in the state.

In 2008, Dr. Polemeni was appointed vice president of the Division of Graduate Studies, and oversaw the Graduate Schools of Education, Psychology, Business, Technology, Jewish Studies, Social Work and Health Sciences, until his death in 2014.

Replacing him in 2008, as dean of the Graduate School of Education, was Dr. Lamar Miller. A World War II veteran, among his many successes was his advocacy of equity and access. The result was that Touro led the State of New York in num­bers of graduating minority students with master’s degrees in education. Dr. Miller also developed the School’s research center—named for Touro found­er and first president, Dr. Bernard Lander—which soon received its first of many grants: a $900,000 three-year U.S. Department of Education award for a Language Development in the Context of the Dis­ciplines project, and a three-year U.S. Department of Education $1.8 million award to operate one of the ten national Equity Assistance Centers.

For three years following Dr. Miller’s 2015 retirement, Interim Dean Dr. Arnold Spinner, known for his gentle kindness, took over. Under his watch, GSE’s partnerships with P-12 schools and districts were strengthened, and improvements in GSE’s recruit­ment, advising and alumni network systems were implemented. He also initiated a major restructuring of the GSE’s teacher preparation programs.

In 2018, Dr. Jacob Easley II, became GSE’s cur­rent dean. Among a myriad of other accomplish­ments, Dr. Easley has raised enrollment, initiated a revision and enforcement of school policies, taken the lead in redesigning the school curriculum and developed a partnership with US PREP. Dr. Easley also has been a key force in including school faculty and staff in the decision-making process and mak­ing sure they know their ideas and experience are welcomed. Known by his staff and students as a dis­arming and inclusive man, Dr. Easley usually starts staff meetings by putting those present at ease with a humorous story or the latest doings of his beloved dog, Queen Nyrah.