Hank Fien Named First Roberts Professor of Educational Innovation
BU Wheelock’s Hank Fien was recently named the inaugural Nancy H. Roberts Professor of Educational Innovation. Established with a generous gift from Nancy Roberts (CAS’59, Wheelock’61,’75) and her husband, Edward, the endowed professorship will support Fien’s scholarship in early literacy and early mathematics.
Fien’s appointment was celebrated with a formal installation ceremony on October 20. “It was clear to me early on that those children whose teachers unlocked the doors to literacy got to make choices in their lives—and those children that did not had choices made for them, whether they liked those choices or not,” said Fien in a speech he delivered during the ceremony.
A faculty member in the Teaching & Learning Department at BU Wheelock, Fien works to promote research-backed, thoughtful methods to improve students’ literacy and mathematics outcomes. In addition to being the director of the National Center on Improving Literacy (NCIL), Fien also heads up the newly launched Wheelock Institute for the Science of Education (WISE). Most recently, he and his team were awarded a Boston University Ignition Award for their work developing an AI-driven program that supports young learners as they learn how to read effectively.
A commitment to act boldly
The Nancy H. Roberts Professor of Educational Innovation was established by Nancy and Edward Roberts to foster development of groundbreaking research and programs to achieve a widespread impact on education.
Nancy Roberts served Lesley University as a professor of education for 40 years, during which she pioneered the use of computers in the classroom with her research and publications. She also developed new programs to help retain young teachers, especially in urban settings. Edward Roberts has served as a senior faculty member at MIT for over 60 years, where he created its programs in management of technological innovation and entrepreneurship.
“We committed our professional lives to teaching students to act boldly to improve society. That is why we were motivated to support educational innovation, not just education,” says Nancy Roberts. “Hank Fien’s work embodies the spirit of our philanthropy. We look forward to seeing what comes next for Hank and his team.”