To the TC Community:

It is my sad duty to report that Harold J. Noah (Ph.D. ’64), Professor Emeritus and former Dean of the College, and a giant in the fields of comparative education and education economics, has passed away at age 94.

Dr. Noah’s monumentally influential 1969 book, Toward a Science of Comparative Education, coauthored with his frequent collaborator, Max Eckstein (they met as TC doctoral students), helped to shift the field toward quantitative methodologies drawn from political science, economics and sociology that could be used to explain and predict phenomena rather than simply describe them. Dr. Noah also pioneered the use of cross-national comparisons among multiple nations. He was instrumental in launching the field of international large-scale assessment, which now encompasses global evaluations such as Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). His ultimate goal was to develop generalizable theories that could be applied across cultures and nations.

Yet perhaps most of all, Dr. Noah was a scholar who, bent on the advancement of knowledge, transcended any “ism.” In his early work, he focused on education systems in the Soviet Union, facilitated by his fluency in Russian (a language he pursued because it enabled him to read Pushkin in the original). He was present at the first meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) in 1956, at which the election of officers was conducted by a show of hands. He would later become president of the organization, which today boasts thousands of members. For many years, he also served as editor of the Comparative Education Review.

That same love of knowledge led Dr. Noah to mentor generations of TC students, and to serve as Dean of the College for five years during the presidency of his friend and colleague, the late Lawrence Cremin. (On a personal note, I might add that Dr. Noah was also instrumental in bringing me to Teachers College.)

We extend our condolences to Dr. Noah’s family. Members of the TC community are invited to attend shiva Tuesday, January 8 from 5:00 - 9:00 p.m. and Wednesday, January 9 from 5:00 - 9:00 p.m. at the home of his son, David Noah, at 328 West 84th Street in Manhattan.

Those wishing to honor Dr. Noah’s memory can contribute to the Professor Harold J. Noah Scholarship in Comparative & International Education by clicking on the preceding link or contacting Linda Colquhoun at 212 678-3679.


Thomas Bailey