USN remembers Director Harvey Sperling

Dedicated educational leader Harvey B. Sperling, who lead USN from 1979 to 1990, has died.
By Juanita I.C. Traughber, Director of Marketing & Communications

University School of Nashville former Director Harvey B. Sperling died Tuesday, February 27 after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. Mr. Sperling served as the eighth Director of University School of Nashville, leading the school from 1979 to 1990 at the pivotal time of its transition from a demonstration school to an independent school. He deemed USN as a place of “academic excellence in a pluralistic setting,” and the school adopted its first statement of nondiscrimination in 1980. 

Former colleagues and successors recall him helping students and faculty dream big, motivating educators at USN — and across the country, instilling families’ confidence in the administration, bringing remarkable parents to govern as trustees, and saving the school with record enrollment and fundraising. 

"I had the privilege of meeting with Mr. Sperling at his home when I first joined our school, listening to reflections on his time at USN, and gleaning advice on how to carry our school forward," said Director Amani Reed. "I am thankful for his mentorship and sincerely appreciated his vote of confidence at the Investiture last spring."

During his 11-year tenure at USN, Mr. Sperling oversaw fundraising for and construction of a building to house a second gymnasium, cafeteria, and performing & fine arts classrooms. The Sperling Center was named in his honor when it opened during his final year at USN.

Beyond Edgehill, Mr. Sperling became the face of USN in the educational community and Nashville community and built relationships to create an exchange program between USN and a school in Japan. After USN, he headed to University School of Milwaukee, where he was Head of School until 2000. 

In addition to a host of USN alumni, parents of alumni, and former colleagues, Mr. Sperling will be deeply missed by his wife Cathie, daughter Sarah ’92, and her husband Kyle Young. His family will hold a small, private ceremony. To honor his memory as a dedicated educational leader, his family kindly requests gifts to be made to USN’s Harvey Sperling Endowed Scholarship Fund or the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, where he served on the museum’s Education Council for over 20 years. 

Click here to read the tribute to him in USN’s 1989-1990 yearbook and here to read a reflection by the Country Music Hall of Fame.

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USN Mission: 
University School of Nashville models the best educational practices. In an environment that represents the cultural and ethnic composition of Metropolitan Nashville, USN fosters each student’s intellectual, artistic, and athletic potential, valuing and inspiring integrity, creative expression, a love of learning, and the pursuit of excellence.