A leader in urban education, Dr. Irving Spear Hamer Jr. passed away May 4, 2019. Born Jan. 6, 1946, Hamer was a tireless innovative advocate for elevating school performance through revamping the infrastructure of the educational system, fair school funding, and using analytic tools to evaluate and predict student outcomes.

A memorial service in celebration of his life will be held Saturday, June 15, 2019, at 3 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine Church, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue at 112th Street in Manhattan. Dr. Hamer was an educational and academic leader in both the public and private sector.  His public sector roles included serving as deputy commissioner of The New State Education Department, Manhattan representative to the New York City Board of Education, deputy superintendent of Miami/Dade (Florida) and Memphis (Tennessee) school systems.  Hamer also served as a professor of education at Columbia University’s Teachers College, Florida International University Center for Urban   Education and Innovation, and the University of Memphis. He was a Yale University senior research analyst early in his career. 

Other public sector involvement included serving as a board chair for The Cathedral of St. John the Divine’s Valley youth program and the educational director for the New York Urban League, where he also served as the director of the Urban League’s Street Academies.  He was the founder and headmaster of the Baltimore Street Academy.

His private sector leadership experience included holding positions as president of Globe Book Company, executive vice president of Simon and Schuster, executive vice president of the Millennium Group, partner at P3Strategies and president of K12Anaytics. 

Irving Hamer was a complex, extraordinarily intelligent man.  A native New Yorker, raised in Central Harlem and Douglas house, Irving Hamer received his master’s and doctoral degrees from Harvard University and his undergraduate degree from Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas.

Yet, there was so much more to him.

His family and cross friends will remember him as a loving supportive father, a prolific writer, incredible dancer, creative thespian, lifelong fine arts collector, and avid reader. 

But, more broadly, he will be remembered for being one of the most innovative urban education scholars of the 21st century—advocating for and developing policies and programs to achieve excellence in education for all children.

When asked to describe himself, however, Dr. Hamer would say he was, “just a man who loves bebop, jazz and a good Cab [Cabernet].”



Harvard University, Ed.D. Learning Environments and Social Policy, 1978

Harvard University, M.Ed., Administration, 1974


Ottawa University, Sociology, 1963-1967,



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