Harnessing the Power of Education: Penn GSE Board Leadership Transition

October 22, 2020
Headshots of David Roberts (left) and Doug Korn (right) appear with a boxed headline that says “Harnessing the Power of Education.”]

David Roberts, W’84, Penn GSE Board of Overseers chair, 2015–2020 (left) and Doug Korn, W’84, current Penn GSE Board of Overseers chair (right)

by Karen Doss Bowman

Doug Korn, W’84, is passionate about education and about Penn GSE’s role as a national leader in the field.

“Penn GSE is an innovator in many areas—urban education, project-based learning, virtual education, the STEM fields, and so much more,” says Korn, who became chair of the Penn GSE Board of Overseers in June. “At a time where education is increasingly important to future workers—who will have to adapt to a changing economy and a changing world of technology—Penn GSE faculty, students, and alumni are preparing American students, and students around the world, to become productive members of the economy and a civil society.”

A member of the Board since 2013 and chair of Penn GSE’s Extraordinary Impact Campaign, Korn has supported priorities across Penn GSE with his wife, Betsy. Along with scholarship aid, annual giving, and the capital expansion project at Penn GSE, the two have given to other areas of the University and recently contributed surgical masks to Penn Medicine to help out during the pandemic.

“Doug is one of the School’s greatest advocates and I am ever grateful for his enthusiasm, his decisive leadership, and his commitment to the values of our school and our community,” says Penn GSE Dean Pam Grossman.

Korn is taking over from previous Board chair David Roberts, W’84, who has been a great advocate of the School’s commitment to serving at-risk students and under-resourced school systems.

“Penn GSE is giving aspiring teachers the tools to meet the needs of underserved populations. It is also developing new approaches through policy to help improve high school graduation rates and college access,” says Roberts, who has been a Board member since 2012 and served as chair for the past five years.

“David has been a wonderful partner to me, serving as a trusted advisor, helping to support my vision for the School, offering advice whenever I needed it, and always only a call away,” says Dean Grossman. Roberts, who continues to serve as a Board member, has played a key role on Penn GSE’s Executive Committee and Campaign Committee. He and his wife, Debbie, have supported the School in the areas of scholarship, faculty professorships, annual giving, and work with the Henry C. Lea School in Philadelphia.

As Korn embarks on his new role, he is excited and energized about supporting Dr. Grossman and seeing the transformation of the School’s physical plant into a modern, state-of-the-art hub.

“More than a century of hard work and excellence has built Penn GSE into one of the top education schools in the country,” says Korn, founder and managing partner at Victor Capital Partners. “But over the years, the physical plant and the technology available to the School have not kept up with its success and the importance of its mission.”

To advance the project that will bring the majority of Penn GSE’s degree programs into a central location with flexible, technologically advanced learning spaces, Doug and Betsy have committed to name a classroom in the expanded facility and additionally have established a giving challenge to memorialize late Board member Edward M. Yorke, W’81, at the School.

In an era in which an unprecedented shift to virtual education has created vast challenges and opportunities, Korn is confident in Penn GSE’s ability to navigate the road ahead. “At a time of great uncertainty, Penn GSE is making powerful contributions to the educational landscape,” he says.

This article appeared in the Fall 2020 issue of The Penn GSE Magazine.