UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School laments the passing of alumnus Ronald Heck, a professor and chair of the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Dr. Heck passed on January 11, 2023 at the age of 71. Heck earned all his degrees from UC Santa Barbara: a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology, a master’s degree in educational psychology, and a Ph.D. in 1986 in organizations and policy from the Department of Education.
Joining the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa as Assistant Professor of Teacher Education in 1987, Heck was promoted to the rank of full professor in 1992. His work in the College of Education was tied closely to the Hawai‘i Department of Education and other UH Mānoa units. He was instrumental in reshaping the academic programs in EDEA and worked with hundreds of students who have gone on to elevate the quality of public schools in Hawai‘i through their teaching and leadership. In 2006, he was appointed as the prestigious Dai Ho Chun Endowed Chair.
Heck published more than 100 empirical papers on leadership in education as well as numerous books, technical reports, and assessments. Aside from his widely acclaimed research on school leadership effects, he also made other important programmatic contributions to teacher quality, higher education administration, and applied statistics.
“Ron’s first love was always teaching, and he believed everything else flowed from his time with students,” said Dr. Scott Thomas (Ph.D., ’94, Department of Education), close friend and Dean of the University of Wyoming’s College of Education. “As a public school teacher in 1986, Ron proclaimed, ʻThere’s nothing I’d rather do than sit down in the afternoon and read a neat story to seven or eight-year-olds.’ He went on to say that ʻyou use the same principles of learning whether you are teaching six-year-olds or adults. You just have to adjust the content. I believe if you can teach, you can teach anything.’”