UAlbany Mourns the Loss of Dean of School of Education Ralph Harbison

Contact: Heidi Weber (518) 437-4993

Ralph Harbison, dean of the University at Albany's School of Education, died Saturday following a heart attack while skiing with family and friends in the North Country.

Dean Harbison joined the University in January 2000, following a distinguished career with the Ford Foundation and The World Bank. Over the past two years Harbison has been at the forefront of the institution's collective effort to strengthen the University's academic and research programs, to expand the University's involvement with surrounding communities and to reform UAlbany's planning and management systems. In addition, Harbison oversaw the School of Education's response to new Regents requirements for teacher certification. His accomplishments in the School of Education were many, including the promotion of a more decentralized budgeting and management framework, the establishment of new distance learning initiatives that stand as campus models, the growth of students and faculty and engagement with the wider community through his support of the Capital Area School Development Association (CASDA).

"Dean Harbison was a passionate advocate for leadership, for generalized citizenship, and for excellence throughout the University. He believed deeply in the power of education to improve living conditions and to increase mutual awareness and appreciation among individuals and societies throughout the world. He will indeed be sorely missed," said University at Albany President Karen R. Hitchcock.

Born in Washington, D.C. and brought up in Chicago and Princeton, Harbison received his bachelor's degree in government from Harvard University. He earned an M.P.A. in 1968 and a Ph.D. in 1973 in modernization and development economics from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

During his 20-year tenure at The World Bank, Harbison served in numerous capacities including senior education economist for Latin America; operations advisor for the Bank's worldwide education program; chief of the human resource technical staff for Europe, Middle East and North Africa; chief of human resources sector operations for Central and Southern Europe and education sector director for South Asia. In addition, he co-authored two books - Labor Markets and Social Policy in Central and Eastern Europe: The Transition and Beyond (1994, Oxford Press); and Educational Performance of the Poor: Lessons from Rural Northeast Brazil (1992, Oxford University Press) - and directed or contributed to many other Bank reports and publications on educational development.

Harbison is survived by his wife, Margaret Irene, their two adult children and a grandchild.

Established in 1844 and designated a center of the State University of New York in 1962, the University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages 17,000 diverse students enrolled in eight degree-granting schools and colleges. For more information about this nationally ranked University, visit


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