David Chard was appointed as the permanent dean of Boston University’s Wheelock College of Education and Human Development after serving as interim dean since 2018.
“From our conversations both throughout this process and over his last two-and-a-half years as interim dean, it grew evident that Dean Chard is the leader Wheelock needs right now,” wrote BU Provost and Chief Academic Officer Jean Morrison in a March 23 announcement.
Chard led the transition of Wheelock College — where he first served as president — following its merger with the School of Education.
He said his initial reaction to his appointment was excitement, following the hard work he had dedicated to the school.
“I had put a tremendous amount of time and energy and my own emotional resources into the interim position,” Chard said. “BU and BU Wheelock mean a lot to me because of my involvement in the merger.”
Chard said he looks forward to making advancements with the college, including increased clarity and stability in regard to the focus of its work.
“I’m excited about helping the college get to the next stage, one of greater stability and clarity around its focus,” he said. “Of course, our focus is around social justice and equity for children and youth and their families.”
He added that he sees an opportunity to make a lasting impact during his time as dean.
“Those all mean a lot to me, so I was excited about the possibility of staying on,” he said, “to sort of create that momentum so that it will last well beyond my time as dean.”
Throughout Chard’s career, he has been a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and spent nearly a decade as dean of Southern Methodist University’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development in Dallas. Chard was also an associate dean for the College of Education at the University of Oregon.
“My first faculty position was at Boston University in 1995,” Chard said. “I started with BU and have come full circle.”
In addition to his numerous faculty positions, Chard was previously nominated by President Barack Obama to serve on the Board of Directors of the National Board for Education Sciences in 2011 and was confirmed by the Senate in 2012. Chard was elected board chair in 2013 and appointed for a second term in 2016.
Chard said going forward, he hopes to create a stronger relationship with Boston Public Schools and the professional organizations where students work, as well as improve the development of Wheelock’s “research enterprise.”
“Many times, colleges of education and human development are not thought of primarily as research institutions,” he said. “We have a number of faculty who are well-known internationally, not just in the United States for the knowledge they generate around sort of the experiences of children in youth and educational settings and other places.”
Wheelock Clinical Associate Professor Petra Hesse said she worked under Chard during her time at Wheelock College prior to the merger and described him as “a wonderful communicator” and “very dedicated to human rights, to education.”
“I feel the best of old Wheelock and the best of new Wheelock is sort of coming together,” Hesse said.
She said his appointment would bring the “best” of the old and new Wheelock Colleges together.
“David deserves a lot of credit, “ she said, “because it was a very difficult process.”
Diane Levin, a professor in Wheelock, also worked under Chard while he was president of Wheelock College. She said Chard helped students and faculty of Wheelock transition from being an independent school to a school under BU.
“He did a good job of trying to help things go smoothly for students, help them transfer, deal with the financial differences in cost, et cetera,” Levin said. “He’s very calm and thoughtful, and will work with most people in a comfortable way.”
Chard said he wants Wheelock to make an impact in the community as well as in the world through research and development.
“I’m very excited about being the dean, and BU is a terrific place to work,” Chard said. “It’s a great place to be a faculty member as well as academic leader, so I’m just excited about it.”