School of Education (University of Michigan) Records and Publications

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School of Education (University of Michigan) records

The materials in this online repository form part of a larger School of Education record group held by the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index to the materials, please consult the online finding aid for the:

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School records consisting of executive committee and faculty meeting minutes, subject files concerning in part promotion and tenure decisions, teacher certification, programs in Detroit Public Schools, the School's accreditation review in 1973-1974, and the University's review of the School in 1982-1984. Topical files of various deans and administrative officers, notably James B. Edmonson, Willard Olson, Carl F. Berger, Frederick W. Bertolaet, Joan Stark, and Charles F. Lehmann; and information on programs and departments at one time administered by the School, including Department of Physical Education, Fresh Air Camp, Bureau of School Services, and vocational education.

Although many of the University of Michigan's graduates pursued careers in teaching, it wasn't until 1874 that the university began awarding teacher's diplomas and added structure to courses in "pedagogics." Increased interest in the courses and repeated lobbying by President James B. Angell resulted in the establishment of the Chair of the Science and Art of Teaching, within the Literary College, in 1879. It was the first permanent chair of education in an American university or college. William H. Payne, a former principal and superintendent, was appointed to fill this newly established position. Under Payne the curriculum began to evolve from courses on school supervision to include the history and theory of education. Payne resigned in 1887 and was succeeded by Burke Aaron Hinsdale who had previously served as president of Hiram College and as superintendent of schools in Cleveland, Ohio. During Hinsdale's tenure the state legislature authorized the university to begin teacher certification by awarding teaching certificates as legal qualification to teach in any of the state's public schools. The teacher's diploma continued to awarded but lacked the legal clout of the new certificate.

In 1899 a second professor, Allen S. Whitney, was appointed. The addition of a second professor helped to substantially expand the university's educational program. Whitney was also in charge of inspecting high schools as part of the developing accreditation program which had begun in 1870. When Hinsdale died unexpectedly in 1900, the university succeeded in enticing William H. Payne to return to Michigan. Payne's second stint was brief as his health rapidly failed and many of the administrative responsibilities fell to Whitney. In 1907 Whitney became chairman of what was renamed as the Department of Education.

In 1919, responding to repeated requests, the state legislature authorized an appropriation to build and equip a model school. As planning for the model school got underway the Board of Regents passed a resolution establishing a School of Education effective July 1, 1921. The resolution elevated teacher training and placed education on a par with other professional schools and colleges on campus. The transition between department and school was eased by Whitney's appointment first as acting dean and finally as permanent dean. The new School of Education was organized into seven instructional units: History and Principles of Education; Educational Administration and Supervision; Educational Psychology, Mental Measurements and Statistics; Special Subjects; Vocational Education and Guidance; Physical Education, Athletics and School Health; and Public Health Nursing. Each of the seven units had its own chairman and committee. In the fall of 1924 University High School opened as a demonstration school, the first of a proposed three-part building plan. In 1927 appropriations were made for a model elementary school which opened its doors in 1930. Due to the Great Depression, the proposed third building intended to house administrative offices and classrooms was never realized.

Allen Whitney resigned as dean in 1929 and an executive committee consisting of James Edmonson, George Myers, and Raleigh Schorling administered the School until Edmonson was appointed as the School's second dean later that year. By the time Whitney retired education had grown from a one member department to an independent school with 60 faculty members offering 150 courses. Edmonson who had previously served as inspector of high schools beginning in 1914, presided over an era of tremendous educational research made possible by the completion of the University Elementary School in 1930. Publication of The School of Education Bulletin also began in this era providing alumni and educators with news and articles written by the faculty. Willard C. Olson, who was appointed director of research in child development in 1929, instituted the systematic collection of data for longitudinal developmental studies, benefitting valuable research in education as well as several other disciplines. Many groundbreaking studies would be published from these data.

During Edmonson's tenure extension and consulting services were offered throughout the state largely in response to the social needs caused by the Depression. Greater emphasis was placed on vocational education and adult and community education. The School of Education also worked with the state prison in Jackson and cooperated with the University Hospital School as well as the Fresh Air Camp for emotionally troubled children. World War II and the postwar period prompted many changes within the School. Changing perceptions of teaching as a profession led to teacher shortages and expanded extension activities. In 1948 the Board of Regents created the Bureau of School Services which absorbed the work of several different units, including the high school accreditation program which had grown to 625 schools. Other changes included the establishment of a program in adult and community education in 1949 and a program in higher education in 1950. Guidance and counseling was also elevated to program status in 1952.

In 1952 Edmonson was succeeded as dean by Willard C. Olson, who had been director of child development research. Olson's tenure corresponded with an era of unprecedented growth in student enrollment, faculty size, and external funding. The increased size of the school required an overhaul of its structure. An assistant dean was appointed in 1955 and the administrations of University Elementary School and University High School were combined into one entity, University School. The entire School of Education was given a new structure in 1956 when separate graduate and undergraduate units were created. That same year the Center for the Study of Higher Education was created through a major grant from the Carnegie Corporation. The space race and Cold War era made education a matter of national importance prompting the National Defense Education Act in 1958 which pumped money into education and research.

By the early 1960s University School was supplying less than 20% of the required placements for student teachers and under 50% of the observational experiences for methods classes. With a student to teacher ratio nearly half that of the Ann Arbor Public Schools it was no longer cost effective to operate University School and decisions were made to begin closing the high school grades. When an external review committee headed by Alvin Eurich turned in its controversial and critical report in 1969 the final decision to close University School was made final and the elementary grades were closed in 1970.

Olson retired as dean in 1970 and was replaced by Wilbur Cohen. The old University School facilities were renovated and turned into classrooms and offices for the School of Education. The School, which had grown to 14 program areas was organized into four divisions: Teacher Education; Behavioral and Social Foundations; Educational Specialists; and Higher, Occupational and Continuing Education. Cohen made urban education a central theme and teacher training was expanded to include the inner city. The federally sponsored race desegregation assistance center, Program for Educational Opportunity was established in 1970 and housed in the renovated School of Education. By the mid 1970s the need for teachers was declining and Cohen and the School had to address what was now a surplus of teachers in the face of dwindling federal and state funding. When Cohen retired in 1978, both enrollment and faculty had each declined by a third from the time he had assumed office.

When Joan S. Stark became dean in 1978 much of her task was to refocus the School in response to several issues raised by the teacher surplus and mounting national criticism of education. Diminishing budgets limited new faculty hiring and led to the removal of over 50 underutilized courses and the elimination of the undergraduate program in vocational education.

A review committee was appointed in 1982 and began the task of evaluating the quality and size of the School of Education's programs and the School's relevance to societal needs and the mission of the university. The committee, in its 1983 report recommended the School's continuation and proposed a 40% cut in the School's budget over a five-year period. The Regents endorsed the 40% reduction proposal. Following an internal search, Carl E. Berger, associate dean for research under Stark, was named dean in 1983 and charged with leading the School through the post-review transition period. Curriculum and programs were streamlined and doctoral and masters degree specializations were significantly reduced. Educational technology was selected as the overall theme for the School. Berger led the School through the difficult transition period and managed to keep research and reform alive despite the major cutbacks.

Berger stepped down as dean in 1988. Philip Kearney served as interim dean, followed by Cecil Miskel. Innovative new programs were launched during Miskel's tenure aimed at providing nontraditional students with alternative routes to teacher preparation. The Master of Arts with Certification program was created to recruit students from diverse backgrounds who already held academic subject degrees. New partnerships and developmental opportunities were also created enlisting the aid of businesses in the state to create and test new models of schooling and educator preparation. Miskel stepped down as dean in 1998. Karen Wixson served as interim dean before being named permanent dean effective January 1, 2000.

(Much of the history was drawn from The Science and The Art of Teaching: The 75th Year of the University of Michigan School of Education (University of Michigan, 1997). A copy of this publication is available in the University of Michigan. School of Education Publications subgroup.

Please note:

Copyright has been transferred to the Regents of the University of Michigan.

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