Judith Ramaley

NSF Names New Education Head

Judith Ramaley, a biologist and former college president, has been named head of education programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Her appointment yesterday ends 2 years of uncertainty over the direction of the foundation's second-largest--and fastest growing--directorate. Ramaley will replace interim acting director Judith Sunley, a longtime NSF administrator who will become a senior adviser to NSF Director Rita Colwell.

Ramaley, 60, joins NSF on 1 August after a long career in academia that includes an acclaimed 6-year stint at Portland State University and a rocky 4-year tenure at the University of Vermont in Burlington, from which she stepped down officially on 30 June. Her Portland years built her reputation as an innovative educator who could build bridges with community leaders, whereas her stay in Vermont was clouded by her handling of a hazing scandal involving the 1999-2000 men's hockey team. That episode contributed to her ouster by university trustees.

Ramaley says that she's left those unpleasant incidents behind and is looking ahead to "this marvelous opportunity to view education and training from a national perspective." Colwell cites her "reputation as a leader of educational reform efforts and longstanding interest in the changing nature and needs of America's workforce." And Anne Petersen, vice president of the W. F. Kellogg Foundation and a former deputy NSF director, calls her "a bold, visionary academic leader, a person of action."

The education and human resources directorate is a sprawling, $800-million-a-year operation that President George W. Bush has designated to lead a new, $200-million-a-year program to improve U.S. math and science education for all children by linking universities with local school districts. The directorate also includes programs to boost the number of minorities and women in science. The latter is an area of special interest for Ramaley, an anatomist whose academic research involved studies on fertility and biological rhythms.