Henry Thomas James, the sixth dean to helm the Stanford School of Education (now the Graduate School of Education), died at the age of 101 on Sept. 30 in Golden Valley, Minnesota.
James was dean of the Graduate School of Education (GSE) from 1966 to 1970. In four years, he pioneered many changes in the institution and forged the interdisciplinary identity that still characterizes it today. Current GSE professor Martin Carnoy was hired by James in 1969 and witnessed the innovative reforms that took place under James’ administration.
“He transformed the school very quickly,” Carnoy said. “He created new positions in economics, organizational studies, philosophy and political science. James led Stanford to become one of the first education schools in the country to hire faculty in the social sciences; to do that was really innovative.”
After completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and then his master’s degree in philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, James began his career as an educator during his time in the Navy. Later, he served as a principal and superintendent in Wisconsin, before moving to Chicago to earn his Ph.D. in education from the University of Chicago. He brought his rich experience in education to bear on his work at Stanford.
“I knew him as a transformative force,” Carnoy said. “It was quite amazing — he recognized that education was moving in a new direction.”
According to his family, one of James’ goals was to become a centenarian. He was born in a farm near Viroqua, Wisconsin and is survived by his six children, Ann Grillo of San Francisco; Thomas James of New York; Jennifer Regan of Minneapolis; Maryellen Lewis of Lansing, Michigan; Betty Folliard of St. Paul, Minnesota; and Art James of Salem, Oregon; along with 17 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren. All six of his children earned graduate degrees, inspired by their father’s dedication to education and their parents’ encouragement.
“They raised us saying, ‘You can be anything you want,’” said his daughter Regan.