About the Dean

Dean Karen Symms Gallagher

Karen Symms Gallagher, Dean

Karen Symms Gallagher is the Emery Stoops and Joyce King Stoops Dean of the USC Rossier School of Education. USC Rossier’s highly innovative masters and doctoral programs prepare educational leaders to be change agents as teachers, administrators, policy leaders and scholars.

USC Rossier’s mission is to prepare leaders to achieve educational equity through practice, research and policy.

Dean Gallagher’s distinguished career has established her reputation as one who transforms educational organizations to successfully achieve their goals. In 2009, the USC Rossier School, under Dean Gallagher, launched its groundbreaking online Master of Arts in Teaching program, the first of its kind from a major research university. The program has now graduated 2,500 highly prepared teachers from around the country and the world, the majority of whom are teaching in hard-to-staff schools. For MAT students’ fieldwork, the program partners with almost 5,000 individual schools and 1,850 districts.

Dean Gallagher has been an active national speaker and thought  leader on the emergence of online learning models. She has contributed several opinion pieces on the trend towards Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), including Where’s the Real Learning?, High Quality Online Learning: A Discussion with USC’s Karen Gallagher and Rethinking Higher Ed Open Online Learning.

Dean Gallagher is a leader of the USC Rossier team that opened USC Hybrid High School in September 2012. This LAUSD public charter school, of which the dean chairs the oversight board, uses technology in a fully blended and rigorous curriculum along with self-paced learning to assure that 100 percent of its graduates are accepted into a four-year university. About 80% of the students, mirroring USC’s urban neighborhood, qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, an indicator of children living in poverty.

USC Rossier also launched a revolutionary education doctorate for practitioners under Dean Gallagher’s leadership. The EdD program, now a national model, engages students in real problems of practice in schools and districts. Rossier’s Global Executive EdD is preparing administrators worldwide for 21st-century education leadership.  In January 2015, the school launched the first online Education doctorate in Organizational Change and Leadership, preparing educators to effect learning in non-traditional environments including corporations, the military, and non-profits.

In 2007, Dean Gallagher led the effort to bring Math for America to Los Angeles in an effort to address the shortage of quality math teachers in the area. Math for America LA provides teacher preparation, stipends and ongoing professional development and support for its teaching fellows over a five-year period. The Master Teacher Fellowship supports experienced math teachers who mentor other teachers and initiate systemic changes in their schools.

In 2014, Dean Gallagher received the Leadership Award from the USC Chapter of the international education association PDK, given to a member demonstrating an “extremely high level of leadership and inspiration.”  In 2013, she was honored with USC’s inaugural Provost’s Prize for Innovation in Educational Practice. She was named to the 2013 cohort of Pahara-Aspen Fellows, a highly selective group of two dozen national education entrepreneurs and reform leaders, the first dean of a school of education to be included. In 2013 she also received the Annual Award for “significant contributions to education innovation and reform in California” by 120 state school superintendents, the Dean’s Superintendents Advisory Group. In 2010, the Los Angeles Urban League awarded the Dean their Social Responsibility Award.

In 2010 she received the Los Angeles Urban League’s Social Responsibility Award, and in 2011 she was awarded the Phi Delta Kappa International Service Key by the USC chapter of PDK.

Dean Gallagher has been a professor, scholar and academic administrator at both public and private research universities throughout the United States. Before joining USC, she was the dean of education at the University of Kansas and prior to Kansas, she directed Ohio’s Commission on Educational Improvement. She has published four books: Shaping School Policy: A Guide to Choices, Politics and Community Relations (1992), Politics of Education Yearbook: The Politics of Teacher Preparation Reform (2000), College Bound (2010), and Urban Education: A Model for Leadership and Policy (2011). She has also written dozens of scholarly articles for publications such as Educational Policy, Research in Higher Education and Early Education and Development.