Afra Ahmed Hersi, Ph.D., named dean of Loyola’s School of Education
| By Rita Buettner
Afra Ahmed Hersi, Ph.D., has been named the next dean of Loyola’s School of Education. Dr. Hersi, who was selected after a national search, has served as the University’s interim dean of the School of Education since July 2021. She begins in the role effective July 1, 2023.
Hersi joined the Loyola faculty in 2007 as an assistant professor in the Teacher Education department, received tenure and was promoted to associate professor in 2014, and was named professor of literacy teacher education in 2021. From 2017-2021, Hersi served as chair of the Teacher Education Department before being named interim dean.
“Since her appointment as interim dean, Dr. Hersi has shown exceptional leadership, guiding the School of Education faculty in innovation, deepening the School’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and strengthening community partnerships, which are so key to the School’s mission and success,” said Cheryl Moore-Thomas, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs. “I look forward to seeing all that Dr. Hersi will achieve as dean of the School of Education, especially as she continues to seek opportunities for innovation within the School and collaboration across the University.”
Hersi’s achievements in the interim role include leading the School of Education through a short-term strategic planning process; establishing the Center for Equity, Leadership, and Social Justice in Education, which serves as a collaborative space to support and highlight engaged research, and evidence-based partnerships; and urging faculty and administrators within the School to increase applications for grants—an initiative which is already seeing strong results. This spring, the School of Education has received a $3.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education and, in conjunction with faculty from Loyola College of Arts and Sciences, a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
“I have long been committed to—and inspired by—the mission of the School of Education to prepare transformational educators, leaders, and counselors committed to social justice, equity, and service in the greater Baltimore community, the state of Maryland, the United States, and beyond,” Hersi said. “I have a steadfast belief in the people who make up the School of Education and Loyola. We can address the challenges ahead, work together, harness the energy and talent of faculty, administration, staff, and students, and take bold actions that strengthen our institution—and our community.”
Hersi, who came to the United States from Somalia and grew up in northern Virginia, received her Ph.D. and Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Boston College, and B.A. in History, Social Studies, and Secondary Education from Radford University.
Hersi has published research in the areas of immigration and education, literacy and language development for bilingual learners, culturally and linguistically responsive practice, and teacher education. Her focus is on academic opportunities for culturally and linguistically diverse students and research that expands the educational and life opportunities of marginalized children, their families, and communities.
“The work of the School of Education is integral to Loyola’s commitment to live out its mission, as our faculty prepare educators and counselors who make a difference in the lives of their students,” said Terrence M. Sawyer, J.D., president. “Loyola is fortunate to have Dr. Hersi as dean, as she brings her expertise and her commitment to strengthening community partnerships to the role.”
Founded in 2009, the School of Education offers both undergraduate and graduate programs. Within the Jesuit traditions of intellectual excellence, social justice, ethical responsibility, and cura personalis, the School of Education promotes leadership and scholarship in the development of teachers, counselors, administrators, and other educators.