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