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New Dean, New Ideas

New Dean, New IdeasRecently appointed Dean of Arts and Sciences Robert Sternberg is bringing fresh ideas about intelligence and learning to Tufts.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [08.30.05] Robert Sternberg never imagined he would spend his entire career in just one place. That is why this summer, after 30 years in New Haven, the former Yale professor packed up his bags and relocated to Massachusetts, where he assumed his new post as dean of Tufts University’s School of Arts and Sciences in mid-August.

“I needed a new challenge and Tufts really seemed to be the right challenge,” Sternberg said in a recent interview with The Boston Globe.

Aside from teaching at Yale, Sternberg directed the university’s renowned Center for the Psychology of Abilities, Competencies, and Expertise [PACE], a research institution that will follow him to Tufts next year. He also served as president of the American Psychological Association in 2003.

These past endeavors, Sternberg told the online publication, Inside Higher Ed, have prepared him for his new role at Tufts.

“I felt ready to assume responsibility for a larger and more complex organization where I could make a difference…to the university as a whole,” Sternberg told the news organization.

Sternberg added that he is looking forward to applying some of his ideas about creativity, intelligence and learning to his job at Tufts.

“Despite the traditional view that intelligence is one thing, everybody knows that no one is good at everything,” Sternberg told The Boston Globe. “What we try to do in our teaching is to teach creatively, practically, analytically and from memory. What does that mean? It means that at least some of the time you’re going to be capitalizing on your strengths, so you learn more.”

Because students’ strengths lie in different areas, Sternberg believes that traditional measures, such as standardized tests, do not provide an accurate assessment of an individual’s intelligence, as he explained to Inside Higher Ed.

“Traditional measures tell us important things about students’ strengths and weaknesses. But they do not tell us all we might wish to know,” Sternberg said in his online interview. “Tufts prepares future leaders for America and abroad, and leaders need a variety of skills that are not all encompassed in traditional measures of abilities and achievements.”

During his time at the PACE Center, Sternberg and his colleagues developed creative new tests to predict college performance more accurately among students of all ethnic and socioeconomic groups. In addition, under his leadership, the center implemented initiatives that have spanned learning disabilities in Kenya, Tanzania and elsewhere.

“Professor Sternberg’s philosophy as embodied in the PACE Center is very much in keeping with the active citizenship that Tufts embraces. We are delighted that the center will be coming to Tufts to enhance our strong existing initiatives in research and global citizenship,” said Tufts Provost and Senior Vice President Jamshed Bharucha.

Bharucha also noted during an interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education that he hopes Sternberg’s ideas about knowledge and leadership will help to fuel debate on admissions policy and teaching at Tufts.

“We are looking forward to having an internal discussion that leads to the most enlightened admissions process that is consistent with our knowledge of intelligence and education today,” Bharucha told The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Sternberg is eager to work with both Bharucha and President Lawrence S. Bacow, whom he characterizes as one of “the most dynamic and transformational leadership teams in the world of higher education.”

“My goal is to become part of this team, together with all the other administrators and faculty, and to work with this team to make Tufts the foremost school of its kind in the country,” Sternberg said to Inside Higher Ed. “And I believe that it will.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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