Robert Lue Named Bok Center Director

The innovative life-sciences educator will continue to shape pedagogy in a new role.

Robert Lue

Given his present and past titles—including professor of the practice of molecular and cellular biology; director of HarvardX; dean of Harvard Summer School; tutor in biochemical sciences; director of life sciences educationthe new assignment Robert A. Lue, Ph.D. ’95, has taken on is not surprising. As of March 1, he becomes the inaugural Richard L. Menschel Faculty Director of the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, an appointment announced by Michael D. Smith, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) in a February 21 e-mail to colleagues.

Describing Lue as “one of Harvard’s foremost leaders in innovative teaching,” the dean provided a snapshot of some of the new Menschel faculty director’s accomplishments to date.

As director of life sciences, he has led a complete redesign of the introductory curriculum, creating a committed team of instructor colleagues and some of the largest and most popular courses on campus. As director of the Harvard-Allston Educational Portal, Rob initiated and has expanded the mission, the programs, and the facility, connecting the Harvard community with the communities of Boston in ever richer and deeper ways. As the faculty director of HarvardX, Rob has led Harvard’s own engagement in the “MOOC revolution” in ways that reinforce our broader commitment to teaching excellence, setting Harvard apart from its peers. Rob has also served as the dean of the Harvard Summer School, where among other things he led the expansion of study abroad programs across multiple fields in the sciences, humanities and social sciences.

As director of the Bok Center, established in 1975 to enhance the quality of undergraduate education and renamed to honor Harvard president emeritus Derek Bok in 1991, Lue will be responsible, along with the executive director and staff, for articulating the teaching mission of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) and elevating its profile on campus, managing the center’s growth and collaborating with staff to develop programs and courses on innovative pedagogies, course and programmatic assessment, and development of teaching skills among FAS instructors, according to the announcement published in the Harvard Gazette.

In closing his message to the faculty, Dean Smith wrote: “Since May of 2012, when edX was announced, I have spent quite a lot of time with Rob. I have found him to be a tremendous partner, a substantive thinker, and a practical optimist. Together with the recently announced appointment of [Huntington D. Lambert,] the next dean for the Division of Continuing Education, I believe we have the makings of a ‘dream team’ of innovative teaching that is without peer.”

Lue himself told the Gazette:

The Bok Center is beautifully positioned to play a very important role in fostering not just faculty experimentation in the classroom, but also in working to identify what the best ways are for us to teach our students. When you look at the national landscape, the traditional mode of lecturing, while still important, is clearly not the only way to teach. Increasingly, faculty members are exploring new ways of using technology and new ways of engaging students. I’ve never seen this level of broad-based interest in creatively rethinking teaching and learning among both faculty and students, so it’s a tremendously exciting time to be in the classroom. 

And linking his new post to his other responsibilities, he added, “This is a perfect moment for the Bok Center, and for other efforts across campus in the teaching and learning space, to come together in a mutually reinforcing way.”


For background on Lue’s previous work to improve teaching and learning, see these articles from the Harvard Magazine archives:

“Professor Video” 

“The Excitement of Science” 

“Enlivening Science”

“Distance [email protected]

For more on Harvard’s online educational efforts, read “Online Evolution Accelerates” in the current March-April issue.

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