Ortega to leave DOE; Hagarty coming on board

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Eric Hagarty will become the Acting Secretary of Education later this week. PROVIDED PHOTO

HARRISBURG—Department of Education Secretary Dr. Noe Ortega will resign his position with the commonwealth on April 29.

“Noe is a dedicated advocate for all students and I’m grateful for his service to our commonwealth,” said Gov. Tom Wolf. “He led the department through unprecedented times, ensuring a safe return to in-person learning and providing access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines. His successful efforts to diversify our educator workforce and improve opportunities for students to obtain postsecondary education opportunities will undoubtedly continue to impact our learners for years to come.”

Prior to serving as secretary, Ortega served as the Deputy Secretary and Commissioner for the Office of Postsecondary and Higher Education at PDE. Before joining PDE in 2017, Ortega spent eight years at the University of Michigan, where he held several academic and administrative roles, including working as the Assistant Director and Senior Research Associate at the National Center for Institutional Diversity and as the Managing Director for the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good.

Ortega also spent nearly a decade working in the areas of financial aid and enrollment management at both public and private universities in Texas and served as a P-16 Specialist for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. He also spent nearly seven years as director of a language institute in Japan where he trained teachers in the area of early childhood language acquisition.

“It has been a tremendous honor to lead the Department of Education during an unprecedented moment in the history of the commonwealth and I am extremely proud of the accomplishments made and the resiliency demonstrated by the PDE team throughout my tenure,” Ortega said. “Thank you, Gov. Wolf, for the opportunity to lead the department. Together, we worked tirelessly to ensure that every learner in Pennsylvania has access to a high-quality and equitable educational opportunity.”

Wolf announced his intention to name Eric Hagarty to serve as Acting Secretary.

Hagarty currently serves as Governor Wolf’s Deputy Chief of Staff responsible for implementing the governor’s priorities and policies relating to education, including the historic “Level Up” program to invest more in Pennsylvania’s most chronically underfunded schools, the COVID-19 vaccine initiative for teachers and the safe return to in-person learning, the first regulatory reforms to Pennsylvania’s charter school system, and generational investments in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

“It has been an honor working closely with Gov. Wolf since the start of his administration and with Secretary Ortega as well as former Education Secretary Pedro Rivera for the last several years. I’m committed to continuing to support the governor for the remainder of his administration and to ensuring that his priorities for our education system are implemented, from pre-K to higher education as well as the libraries that serve as the bedrock of many communities. I look forward to working even more closely with the hard-working and dedicated staff at the Department of Education,” Hagarty said.