Amy Stuart Wells Named Dean of the Graduate School of Education

In March, Bank Street College of Education announced Amy Stuart Wells as the next Dean of the Graduate School of Education, beginning August 2023. She will replace Dean Cecelia Traugh, who is retiring after eight years in the role.

A leader and established scholar in the field of education, Wells has worked as a professor of sociology and education at Teachers College (TC), Columbia University since 2001. She is also the founder and executive director of TC’s nationally recognized professional development program Reimagining Education: Teaching, Learning, and Leading for a Racially Just Society and leads several research projects, including The Public Good: A Public School Support Organization, which is dedicated to supporting and sustaining racially diverse public schools.

Throughout her career, Wells has made extensive scholarly contributions, not only through the publication of her own books and articles but also by serving as the president of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) from 2018-19, among other endeavors. She has worked on issues related to school reform policies and the ways that diversity and segregation impact the health of a school. Her current work is focused on supporting teachers, schools, and school systems in integrating anti-racist policies and practices into their approach to education. 

Over the last eight years, Wells has worked closely with colleagues at Teachers College to grow the Reimagining Education Summer Institute into a leading initiative that includes an advanced certificate program and year-round professional development support for educators. Through her work, she has built collaborative, intercultural coalitions that reimagine what education for a multi-racial and anti-racist democracy can and should be. Wells noted that through her experience developing the program, she has increasingly shifted away from a policy-oriented focus in her work to “centering the knowledge base on good teaching, learning and leading as a way to inform policy.”

“Our community is excited to welcome Amy Stuart Wells as our next Dean of the Graduate School of Education. Deeply aligned to Bank Street’s mission, she has a strong vision for the leadership role that Bank Street can play in advancing reforms that unite progressive and anti-racist educational approaches,” said Shael Polakow-Suransky, GSE ’00, President, Bank Street College. “We look forward to partnering with her as we continue to build on the great work that is happening across the Graduate School and larger institution.”

Wells was selected after a comprehensive search and interview process led by a search committee that included representatives from Graduate School faculty and staff, Children’s Programs, Bank Street Education Center, Strategy and Operations, and the Board of Trustees. In addition, the Bank Street community, including faculty and staff, trustees, students, and alumni, was invited to participate in the selection process by attending in-person meetings with the finalists on Bank Street’s campus and sharing their feedback through online surveys. 

Following this collaborative process, the committee determined that Wells was the right candidate for the role, noting her strong listening and leadership skills, collaborative approach, and longstanding commitment to anti-racism—a value deeply threaded in Bank Street’s mission. The committee was also excited about Wells’ ability to build on the work of current Graduate School of Education Dean Cecelia Traugh, continue to strengthen research efforts in the Graduate School, and serve as an ambassador for Bank Street.

“I’m excited for this wonderful opportunity to bring my decades of experience to a leadership role in a community that prioritizes applying research-based knowledge to the training of education professionals and works to advance equity in education for all students,” said Wells, who shared a powerful lecture at Bank Street’s 2019 Niemeyer Series on connecting multicultural education, culturally responsive pedagogy, ethnic studies curricula, and progressive education work. “I look forward to joining Bank Street and building on our shared commitment to equity and anti-racism, as well as high-quality progressive education.”

In 1991, Wells received her PhD in Sociology and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She also holds a master’s degree in Journalism from Boston University and a bachelor’s degree in English from Southern Methodist University.