Karen Symms Gallagher is the Emery Stoop and Joyce King Stoops Dean of the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education. Since assuming this role in 2000, she has led her faculty, students, staff and alumni in a strategic plan with a mission of strengthening urban education locally, nationally and globally.
The hallmark of Dr. Gallagher’s leadership style is creating mutually beneficial partnerships to rethink and resolve the complex educational and social issues facing urban communities in our own neighborhoods and worldwide. She has spearheaded an unprecedented online Master of Arts in Teaching degree, MAT@USC, which will be the first of its kind from a major research university and will roll out this year. She has also committed to the Math For America program, which supports local fellowships to bring qualified math teachers into local schools.
Dr. Gallagher has been a professor, scholar and academic administrator at both public and private research universities throughout the United States. Before joining USC, she was the dean of education at the University of Kansas and prior to Kansas, she directed Ohio’s Commission on Educational Improvement, working with policymakers in the Ohio General Assembly and business leaders from the Ohio Business Roundtable.
Dr. Gallagher’s distinguished career has established her reputation as one who transforms educational organizations to successfully achieve their goals. Under her leadership, the USC Rossier School has risen in national rankings (U.S.News and World Report) and has created highly innovative master’s and doctoral programs that prepare educational leaders to be change agents in the fields of teaching, administration and research.
Dean Gallagher recently established the APRISE (Asia Pacific Rim International Study Experience) initiative at Rossier, which seeks to build linkages with universities and school systems throughout Pacific Rim countries that would promote faculty/student exchanges, foster funded research opportunities, and develop new graduate programs that prepare administrators internationally for 21st century university leadership. Memos of understanding have been finalized with Peking University in 2006 and also with Beijing Normal University in 2008, with a third memorandum being prepared to coordinate with the Yangpu District Bureau of Education in Shanghai. In Vietnam, discussions are underway for the creation of a joint EdD program.
Locally, Dean Gallagher and her faculty are working with the Los Angeles Urban League to create and implement Neighborhoods@Work, a model for sustainable neighborhood revitalization in central Los Angeles. With the Urban League and the Tom and Ethel Bradley Foundation, Rossier has established the Greater Crenshaw Educational Partnership (GCEP) to assume leadership of Crenshaw High School, an urban high-needs school.