A Landmark Gift to Penn GSE

December 16, 2022
The McGraw siblings , Robert, Suzanne, and Harold III , stand together smiling.

At an event honoring the 2022 winners of the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education in New York City in November, Penn GSE announced the largest gift in the School’s history—a $16.25 million commitment from the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation, which will create a new center for educational leadership and continue its annual prize.

The transformational gift will direct $10 million to create the McGraw Center for Educational Leadership to prepare innovative and responsive leaders who can lead change. An additional $6.25 million will expand existing support for the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education, which honors those who are transforming teaching and learning with three annual $50,000 awards in preK–12 education, higher education, and lifelong learning. Penn GSE has been home to the prize since 2020.

The McGraw Center for Educational Leadership, slated to launch in the fall of 2023, will bring together leaders from across the education landscape, convening current and aspiring superintendents and principals, chief learning officers, and college leaders to cultivate a mindset for multisector collaboration and innovation.

“More and more, society needs educators who are well prepared to respond to the accelerated rate of change in the educational landscape, to turn challenges into opportunities, and to develop pioneering solutions to complex problems. Building on Penn GSE’s outstanding legacy of preparing leaders in preK–12, higher education, and workplace learning, the new center will champion innovation across thought and practice,” said Penn GSE Dean Pam Grossman. “The McGraw Center will have a multiplier effect, impacting schools, districts, colleges, universities, and workplaces on a vast scale.”

The center will be located in Penn GSE’s ambitious building expansion, which is currently underway and will feature twenty-first-century instructional spaces and support the School’s portfolio of innovation, education, and leadership programs in the heart of the Penn campus. Participants will include students and alumni from four of the School’s leadership programs: the School Leadership Program, the Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership, the Executive Doctorate in Higher Education Management, and the Penn Chief Learning Officer Program, benefitting students across the School.

“We all know that leadership matters, and few things matter more to our society than cultivating leaders who can navigate change and are devoted to educating people at every stage of their lives,” said Penn President Liz Magill. “With the launch of the McGraw Center, those dedicated to teaching and learning will be able to devise more effective responses to the rapidly changing needs of learners today. We are deeply grateful to the McGraw family for their exceptional generosity.”

Dean Grossman adds, “We have deeply valued our ongoing partnership with the McGraw Family Foundation over the past several years and look forward to taking this next transformational step together.”

Learn more in the Fall 2022 issue about Penn GSE’s legacy of cultivating the leaders of the future.

This article appeared in the Fall 2022 issue of The Penn GSE Magazine.