By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.

Class is in Session: Meet the New Dean of the School of Education

What do snowmobiles, a wedding in potato blossom season, and the Yankees have in common? Kelly Chandler-Olcott, dean of Syracuse University’s School of Education is the common denominator.
Portrait of School of Education dean Kelly Chandler-Olcott.

Dean Kelly Chandler-Olcott stands outside Huntington Hall, home of the School of Education. A longtime faculty member, she was appointed dean in March after serving as interim dean since 2021.

What five words best describe you?

Methodical. Idiosyncratically curious. Secretly introverted.

Three fun facts about yourself that others may not know?

I can drive a snowmobile. I make an exceptional pomegranate mojito. I timed my wedding to coincide with peak potato blossom season in my hometown.

Favorite sports team?

Right now, I am first and foremost a soccer mom, but I grew up as a New York Yankees fan in New England, the heart of Red Sox Nation (I attribute some of my mental toughness to that).

Most interesting travel experience?

When I was 17, I was part of a delegation of Maine teenagers who traveled to six cities in the former Soviet Union—Moscow, Leningrad, Sochi, Baku, Tallinn and Riga—as part of a cultural exchange when President Mikhail Gorbachev was promoting glasnost.

School of Education dean Kelly Chandler-Olcott stands in front of class in lecture hall.

During her Dean’s Welcome, Chandler-Olcott shares a laugh—as well as advice and insights—with new School of Education undergraduate students in Maxwell Auditorium.

Podcast, book, movie or hobby you’ve enjoyed recently?

Everyone expects a literacy professor to recommend books (and believe me, I can—how much space do I get?!), but I’m going with a podcast here: I am in the middle of listening to Dolly Parton’s America, and it is an enlightening choice at this polarized moment in our country.

Best question you’ve been asked?

My favorite questions are when alumni reach out after graduation, usually when they’re working in a new school context, and ask for my advice about an instructional problem they’re trying to solve. Usually, they already know the answer, but it helps them to say it out loud to someone who’s interested. And they know I’m interested! I love staying connected to our grads, and I learn a lot about what’s going on in the field from what they share.

Ideal vacation?

A full week in Puerto Rico in March with my husband and two children, with a good sun hat, 10 books loaded on my Kindle, and dinner out every night.

What most appeals to you about living in Central New York?

I love the change of seasons; the easy transitions between urban amenities and opportunities to be in nature; and the intermixing of people who’ve been rooted here for a long time with interesting newcomers.

How do you bring out the best in your students?

I give them the most specific, actionable feedback on their thinking, writing and planning that I can, starting with their strengths. When we’re learning, sometimes we don’t even know what’s working—what we should continue, what we can build on. I try to name that for students before I nudge them forward.

What are you most excited about in your role as dean?

I am excited about supporting the enactment of our forward-looking redesign work in the School of Education, as well as collaborating with some excellent new leaders in other units.

Kelly Chandler-Olcott cheers on students outside of the School of Education.

Chandler-Olcott joins new students for a celebratory group photo outside Maxwell Hall during Welcome Week as they kicked off the start of their college careers.

Updated on

Also of Interest

Student wearing Syracuse University sweatshirt sits in classroom.

School of Education

The School of Education is a national leader in enhancing educational practice. A pioneer in the inclusion movement, the School of Education continues that tradition through its work to improve urban education.

Explore the opportunities
Woman wearing exoskeleton device walks on treadmill.

Syracuse Stories

The Orange story has thousands of chapters. Discover some of the people, programs and research that fuel Syracuse University's undeniable spirit.

Read more