University of Rochester

Raffaella Borasi Named Dean of Warner School

April 27, 2001

Raffaella Borasi, a pioneer in new methods for mathematics instruction, has been selected dean of the Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development at the University of Rochester.

Acting dean of the Warner School since July 2000, Borasi is a widely published author and a respected leader in the field of mathematics education and school reform. She joined the faculty of the Warner School in 1985.

"During this year, Raffaella Borasi has shown an excellent ability to handle the position of dean," said Charles E. Phelps, provost of the University. "After a national search with very fine candidates, we felt that Professor Borasi offered the strongest qualifications with an exceptional combination of leadership, familiarity with the Warner School, and scholarship in her field."

The new dean's academic research efforts are built on the concept of teaching through inquiry, with a specialization in mathematics. This instructional approach stresses problem solving, students' ownership in the learning process, and the development of communities of learners trying to "make sense" of problems and concepts. Through her work on numerous projects in Rochester-area schools, she also has developed expertise and been nationally recognized for the professional development of educators and for the complex coordination of curriculum development, professional development, and administrative support that characterizes systemic school reform.

For more than 10 years, Borasi's research has been supported by multiple grants from the National Science Foundation and the New York State Department of Education. Most recently, she has been working on an NSF-funded Local Systemic Change project to facilitate mathematics reform in middle schools in four Rochester-area school districts: Brighton, Hilton, Honeoye Falls, and Spencerport.

The author of the groundbreaking 1996 book, Reconceiving Mathematics Instruction: A Focus on Error, Borasi also has co-authored Reading Counts: Expanding the Role of Reading in Mathematics Classrooms, which was published last year and explores how reading can be integrated successfully into the teaching of inquiry-oriented mathematics. To help train teachers in school mathematics reform, she has created a multi-media packet to assist teachers called Introducing Math Teachers to Inquiry: Framework and Support Materials to Design Professional Development.

Borasi, who now holds the Frederica Warner Chair in Education, has filled other leadership positions at the Warner School, including chair of the Program in Teaching and Curriculum and senior associate dean. She is the sixth dean of the Warner School.

At an early age, she developed a passion for mathematics and a talent for making math understandable to others. Borasi graduated from the University of Torino in Italy in 1981. She received a Fulbright scholarship to study in the United States, and earned her doctorate from SUNY Buffalo in 1986.

"I am deeply honored to be selected to lead the Warner School, and I remain truly impressed with the breadth and depth of our faculty, as well as the diversity, talent and passion of our students," Borasi said. "My goal is to work collaboratively with area schools and educational organizations to harness the many assets of the Warner School to the benefit of the Rochester community and the field of education. With community partners, we will ensure that educational practice is informed by quality research, and that research is based in the realities of the educating professions."

The Warner School, established as the University's College of Education in 1958, offers a broad spectrum of programs for those seeking master's and doctoral degrees in the areas of teaching and curriculum, educational leadership, and counseling and human development. Faculty and students at the Warner School are involved in research, project development, and scholarship on a wide range of educational issues-from the philosophy, sociology and history of education, to professional development and research grounded in the classroom experience and designed to promote effective educational practice and work with students.

Borasi succeeds Philip Wexler, who held the post of dean for 11 years. He is now on leave doing research at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Israel.