Kathleen McCartney

Smith College
Education specialist; Academic administrator; Educator
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Kathleen McCartney is the 11th president of Smith College. A summa cum laude graduate of Tufts
University, she earned master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology from Yale University.
Since assuming the presidency in July 2013, McCartney has focused on outreach to the Smith
community, as well as on raising Smith’s visibility on issues important to women around the world. She
has launched important conversations on college access and affordability, campus discourse, design
thinking and the liberal arts, women in STEM, and the capacities students need to succeed and lead.
She has forged educational partnerships with leading organizations, including the Tuck School of
Business at Dartmouth College, edX, and MassMutual. Under her leadership Smith has engaged noted
architectural designer Maya Lin to re-envision its historic Neilson Library in the context of its renowned
Frederick Law Olmsted campus.
McCartney was previously dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE)—only the
fifth woman dean in Harvard’s history. She doubled HGSE’s financial aid for master’s students, raised
funds for international faculty research, and dramatically increased fellowship support for doctoral
students. A signature accomplishment of her tenure was the creation of a three-year doctorate in
educational leadership developed in collaboration with the Harvard Business School and Kennedy
School of Government.
An authority on child development, McCartney’s research has focused on childcare and early
childhood experience, education policy, parenting, poverty, and behavior genetics. She has authored
some 150 articles and book chapters and was a principal researcher for a 20-year study of the effects
of child care on child development. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,
the National Academy of Education, the American Educational Research Association, the American
Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society. She was elected to the Board of
Directors of the American Council on Education (ACE) in 2015. She was the recipient in 2009 of the
Distinguished Contribution Award from the Society for Research in Child Development. In recognition
of her thoughtful and creative leadership at HGSE, The Boston Globe in 2011 named her one of
the 30 most innovative people in Massachusetts. In 2013, she received the Harvard College Women’s
Professional Achievement Award, which honors an individual who has demonstrated exceptional
leadership in her professional field.
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