Gay SMU Dean David Chard named president of Wheelock College

David ChardDavid Chard, the first dean of SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, will become president of Wheelock College in Boston in July 1.

Chard, who is gay, will be the college’s 14th president.

Founded in 1888, Wheelock College focuses on preparing students for careers in education, social work and child life.

“Chard stood out not only for his outstanding leadership at Southern Methodist University, but for his innovative thinking, focus on diversity and inclusion, and lifelong commitment to education,” said Kate Taylor, chair of the Wheelock College Board of Trustees.

SMU President Gerald Turner praised Chard’s work elevating the Simmons to national prominence.

“David Chard has been the ideal dean to build the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development as a national resource with a particular impact on our community,” Turner said in a statement. “He has led programs and attracted research funding that will strengthen the quality of education through evidence-based practices. He has made the Simmons school a strategic partner with the community in improving education opportunities for under-served young people. He is a national leader in education. We wish him the best of success at Wheelock.”

One of those strategic partnerships includes the SMU Center for Family Counseling at Resource Center. The partnership, which has been operating since 2008, allows graduate counseling students to provide counseling services under the supervision of doctoral licensed university faculty and staff at Resource Center.

“David is a very, very, very good friend,” Resource Center CEO Cece Cox said. “I was introduced to him early on when I was at Resource Center and he was at SMU. We’ve worked closely together and also developed a business relationship.”

Cox, who also serves on the Simmons School’s executive committee, said Chard’s being openly gay was a positive step for the university.

“His being openly gay was instrumental in raising awareness of and influencing positive efforts regarding the LGBT community,” Cox added. “When you have a seat at the table, you have a say.”

Chard will also be one of the few out leaders of a private, four-year college or university in the country. Others include Sterling College’s Matthew Derr, president of the rural environmental liberal arts college in Vermont and Nancy Roseman, president of Dickinson College, a Pennsylvania liberal arts college.

Chard was appointed by President Barack Obama to the Board of Directors of the National Board for Education in 2012 and elected chair. The board oversees and directs the work of the Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

Steven Currall, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs, will be appointing an interim dean prior to Dean Chard’s departure from SMU. A search committee will look for Chard’s replacement through the 2016-17 school year.

—  James Russell

Chard nominated to education board

Openly gay SMU dean faces Senate confirmation hearing to earn spot in Obama administration

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer


David Chard

Openly gay Southern Methodist University Dean David Chard has been nominated to the National Board for Education Sciences by President Barack Obama.

If approved by the Senate, Chard will be one of 15 voting members appointed by the president. The board is the research arm of the Department of Education.

Chard is unable to comment about the position until after the confirmation hearing.

He was among three people named to the board by Obama on Oct. 19. The others are Larry V. Hedges and Hirokazu Yoshikawa.

Hedges is professor of statistics and a faculty fellow of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.  Yoshikawa is professor of education and the academic dean at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Chard has been dean of SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development since 2007. He served as director of graduate studies for the department of special education at the University of Oregon from 2003 to 2005, and as associate dean of the College of Education at the University of Oregon from 2005 to 2007.

Since arriving at SMU, Chard has become active in the LGBT community. Working with Resource Center Dallas, he created a counseling internship program that is a partnership between his school and the Oak Lawn agency.

He also spearheaded efforts to get SMU to become a Black Tie Dinner sponsor.

The Education Department position is advisory. The members consult with the director to approve priorities and guide the work of the institute.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 21, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

SMU’s first gay dean may not lead the parade, but he sure isn’t in the closet

David Chard heads up SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education, started 3 years ago

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

David Chard
David Chard

David Chard wanted to make sure before taking the job as dean of Southern Methodist University’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education three years ago that he wouldn’t be closing himself back into a closet. That’s why he was upfront with administrators about being gay when he applied.

Before even coming to Dallas to interview, Chard asked an SMU faculty member he knew if he should reveal his sexual orientation. She told him SMU administrators all knew he was gay, but that they probably weren’t looking for someone who would be grand marshal of the gay Pride parade.

“So now,” Chard said recently, “I want to be grand marshal of the Pride parade.”

But, he added, he’ll probably take a pass on performing in drag at S4’s Rose Room with Joe Hoselton, the graduate admissions coordinator at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts who performs regularly under the stage name Jenna Skyye.

Although Chard was named the first permanent dean of the Simmons School three years ago, the school just became consolidated under one roof with the dedication of the new Simmons School building on Sept. 24. Before then, Simmons’ education, dispute resolution and counseling, and physiology departments were part of other SMU schools.

Among the various named areas of the new building is the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas Reception Area outside the dean’s office.

“About six to eight months ago, I met with the [GLFD] board and asked if they’d sponsor a fundraising event,” Chard said, explaining how the reception area got its name.

At the time Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas was involved in another project, but GLFD members made plans to raise funds with an event later, nothing their intent on the fund’s website.

Chard said GLFD received an immediate response that included donations from many alumni and faculty, which funded the reception area in time for the building’s dedication.

Chard came to Dallas from the University of Oregon. While Oregon has a reputation for being gay-friendly, he said that part of the country has more of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Chard said SMU has a more welcoming environment, with many more gays and lesbians on its faculty and staff.

SMU made Princeton Review’s list of most homophobic colleges in the country again this year. But Chard doesn’t believe the school deserves that position on the Princeton Review list, calling SMU’s administration very respectful of him and his relationship.

As an example, he said, “My partner is invited to every major event and he receives the spousal gift.”

Chard said the listing is based on student responses, and “Student responses don’t match [SMU’s] policies,” he said.

Chard did acknowledge that the ranking was helpful in demonstrating where community relationships need to be built. He said he has used the school’s rating to encourage participation by other deans in LGBT community events such as the Black Tie Dinner.

He also said that his being a member of the LGBT community has presented opportunities for SMU. The Simmons School’s counseling department provides counseling through Resource Center Dallas. And Chard said that there is a waiting list to participate in that internship program. Once Resource Center has more room in its planned new building, he’ll provide more students for the program, he said.

Resource Center Executive Director Cece Cox said SMU has made “a huge commitment” to RCD, and that the school’s connection to the Resource Center goes further than its counseling program.  Chard hired Resource Center to do diversity training for students training to be teachers and counselors.

He said that all SMU student teaching is done in Dallas. Because Dallas Independent School District has non-discrimination policies in place, it was important for his students to understand diversity issues.

Cox said the relationship with Simmons has expanded to the business school. Resource Center provides training for MBA students to understand LGBT diversity policies at most Fortune 500 companies, including most of the top Dallas-based corporations.

Chard named Cox to the Simmons School’s executive board, he said, because she represents an important group of potential donors.

“She represents gay alumni,” he said. “It’s a community we need to build a relationship with.”

“He’s incredibly innovative,” Cox said. “He’s helped SMU get involved in the community.”

Cox said that community extends far beyond just the LGBT community and that Chard has made important contributions in many areas around Dallas.

The department of dispute resolution based on the Legacy campus in Plano works with local companies such as American Airlines and J.C. Penney. The department of applied physiology works with the area’s professional sports teams and the education department is currently working with Southwest Airlines.

“We’re helping them think about the format they use for pilot training,” he said.

Simmons faculty members serve on planning committee of the upcoming Perot Science Museum that will be built in Victory Park and advised on the Children’s Adventure Garden at Dallas Arboretum.

Chard said that Simmons was never intended to be just another education school.  “We’re here to build community relationships,” he said.

Now that Simmons School is established and settling into its own home, Chard has plans to expand the school’s mission of research and beginning new programs, including a special education program.

He said special education attracts a large number of gays and lesbians to the field and thinks it’s because of the connection to helping those needing the most help.

Chard earned his own Ph.D. in special education. He began his career as a high school math and chemistry teacher. Then he joined the Peace Corps and taught in Lesotho for four years where he met his wife.

Chard joined the faculty of University of Texas, and he and his wife had three children.

After coming out, Chard accepted a position at the University of Oregon. A motivation to move back to Texas was that his children were still here.

Comparing SMU with UT, he said, “SMU is a face-to-face campus. UT is a city.”

His partner of two years recently moved from Boston to Dallas, and Chard said they are just getting settled.

Chard said Dallas pleasantly surprised him. He called the city nice, giving and gracious.

“I found Dallas to be a lot more interesting than Austin,” he said. “Great neighborhoods. The gay community is more active.”

Chard brought one of his daughters to last week’s Pride parade. He said seven students marched in an SMU entry. His daughter suggested they march with them next year.

He said he’s thinking about it — unless he’s the grand marshal.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 01, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens