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Noted authority on reading joins UC Berkeley as new dean of Graduate School of Education
08 June 2001

By Kathleen Maclay, Media Relations

Berkeley - P. David Pearson, a leading scholar in reading and reading assessment, will leave a teaching post at Michigan State University to head the University of California, Berkeley's Graduate School of Education beginning July 1, 2001.

Pearson's appointment as dean was announced today (Friday, June 8) by UC Berkeley Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost Paul Gray, culminating a national search to find a replacement for the education school's current dean, Eugene Garcia. Garcia will return to teaching after leading the school since 1996. The appointment is pending the UC Regents' approval.

"We are fortunate to attract such a distinguished scholar and educational leader with a vast administrative experience to serve as dean," said Garcia. "I am so pleased to have him assume this key leadership role and address the educational opportunities and challenges that face our school, California and the nation."

"It is good to be coming back to what is arguably America's most intellectually and culturally diverse and interesting public university," said Pearson.

Pearson said that, contrary to popular opinion and political rhetoric, more children in this country are learning the basics with greater competence than ever and the gap between the educational
haves and have-nots is narrowing. Yet learning, achievement and educational opportunity remain unevenly distributed, as is teacher expertise, he said.

"We need to make the case for teaching...," Pearson said. "We need to dispel important myths that guide public opinion about teaching, such as the myth that teachers are born, not made, or the myth that teaching requires only subject matter knowledge."

The Graduate School of Education is in the midst of expanding its programs to help prepare new teachers and principals for urban schools, and to alleviate California's shortage of science teachers. It also is active in a wide range of research initiatives relating to education.

"If you want to engage in conversations about the big issues in education and if you are prepared to ask how those ideas can make life better for students, their parents and teachers, then the Graduate School of Education is the right place for you to pursue your studies," Pearson said.

Pearson started out his career as a fifth grade teacher at West Putnam Elementary School in the Central San Joaquin Valley town of Porterville in the mid-1960s.

He has held the John A. Hannah Distinguished Professorship of Education at Michigan State's College of Education, along with appointments in teacher education and educational psychology.

He also is co-director of, and a principal investigator at, Michigan State's Center for the Improvement in Early Reading Achievement. Pearson has written and edited several books relating to reading. His "Handbook of Reading Research" is in its third edition.

Pearson, who earned his BA in history at UC Berkeley in 1963, earned his PhD in education from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis in 1969. He became a faculty member at the University of Minnesota in 1969 and stayed there until being appointed professor at the University of Illinois in 1979. He served as dean at the University of Illinois from 1989 to 1995, gaining recognition for spearheading efforts to diversity the student body and faculty there.

Pearson was recognized for his contributions to reading research by the National Reading Conference in 1989, and by the International Reading Association in 1990.