Columbia Provost Claude Steele to lead Stanford School of Education

Claude Steele returns to Stanford, where he was a member of the faculty from 1991 to 2009.

L.A. Cicero Claude Steele portrait

Claude Steele is recognized as a leader in the field of social psychology and for his commitment to the systematic application of social science to problems of major societal significance.

Claude Steele, provost of Columbia University and a preeminent scholar of social psychology, will be the next dean of Stanford University's School of Education, President John Hennessy and Provost John Etchemendy announced today.

Steele was a member of the Stanford faculty from 1991 to 2009, when he assumed the position as chief academic officer at Columbia, where he is responsible for assuring the quality of all academic programs and faculty. He will succeed Deborah Stipek, who will be stepping down after 10 years as dean. Steele's appointment is effective September 1.

"For nearly two decades, Claude Steele was an integral part of Stanford University and it will be a pleasure to welcome him back in this capacity," Hennessy said. "His academic expertise and his demonstrated leadership will serve not only the School of Education, but the university as a whole."

Etchemendy, who served as co-chair of the search committee, praised Steele's academic and administrative credentials.

"Claude was the enthusiastic recommendation of the Search Committee.  He brings to the position an extraordinary combination of academic excellence and administrative experience," Etchemendy said. "We are confident that under Claude's leadership, our already wonderful School of Education will achieve new levels of excellence."

Steele said he is looking forward to his return to Stanford, where during his tenure he held appointments as the Lucie Stern Professor in the Social Sciences, as director of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, and as the director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.

"I am thrilled to be joining Stanford’s School of Education. It has such an important role to play in one of our society’s most important areas – education," Steele said.  "It will be an honor to help the school sustain its greatness and extend its reach at a time when its scholarship and insights are so badly needed. And with this move, there is the added pleasure for my wife Dorothy and me of returning to our Stanford community of friends and colleagues." Members of the search committee praised Steele's dedication to improving the quality of schools and the educational outcomes for students.

"Claude Steele is an outstanding choice as the next dean for the School of Education. He is among the most distinguished social scientists of his generation," said Professor Eamonn Callan, co-chair of the search committee and associate dean of student affairs in the School of Education. "He has a brilliant record of educational leadership and an abiding interest in improving America's schools."

At Columbia, Steele has been responsible for directing and implementing academic plans and policies for the 27,000-student Ivy League institution, and he supervises the work of the university's faculties, departments, centers and institutes. He is responsible for faculty appointments and tenure recommendations and oversees the financial planning and budget for the university.

Steele taught at the University of Utah, the University of Washington, and the University of Michigan prior to joining Stanford.  He was educated at Hiram College and at Ohio State University, where he received his Ph.D. in psychology in 1971.  He has received honorary degrees from the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, Yale University, Princeton University, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Steele has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Education, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He is a member of the Board of the Social Science Research Council and of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Board of Directors.

Steele is recognized as a leader in the field of social psychology and for his commitment to the systematic application of social science to problems of major societal significance.  His research focuses on the psychological experience of the individual and, particularly, on the experience of threats to the self and the consequences of those threats.  His early work considered the self-image threat, self-affirmation and its role in self-regulation, the academic under-achievement of minority students, and the role of alcohol and drug use in self-regulation processes and social behavior. While at Stanford, he and his students further developed the theory of stereotype threat, a common process that can significantly affect both the experiences and performance of people from different groups due to social stereotypes associated with those groups. This work has been used extensively by educators to understand group differences in school and test performance, and has led to a variety of interventions in educational settings that improve these performances.

He has published articles in numerous scholarly journals, including the American Psychologist, The Journal of Applied Social Psychology, the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.  His recent book, Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do, was published in 2010.

He was the recipient of the Dean’s Teaching Award from Stanford University.  The American Psychological Association has bestowed on him the Senior Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest and the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award (1998).  The American Psychological Society presented him with the William James Fellow Award for Distinguished Scientific Career Contribution (2000).  The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues awarded him the Gordon Allport Prize in Social Psychology (1997) and the Kurt Lewin Memorial Award (1998).  He received the Donald Campbell Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (2001).

The Stanford University School of Education, with an enrollment of more than 400 graduate students, is a leader in groundbreaking, cross-disciplinary research that helps to shape educational practice and policy. The school's faculty members integrate practice and research by working collaboratively with education administrators, teachers and policy leaders around the world, and they contribute to theoretical and methodological innovations in the social sciences.

Graduates of the Stanford School of Education hold leadership positions as teachers, researchers, administrators, and policymakers. The school's philosophy is to expose students to real-world challenges and involvement in problem-solving collaborations with practitioners and policymakers. The school operates the East Palo Alto Academy, a public charter high school in the neighboring East Palo Alto community. The school also has sustained collaborations with organizations serving youth in several Bay Area communities and ongoing partnerships with public school districts.

Lisa Lapin, University Communications, (650) 725-8396,