College of Education History

Founded in 1915, Auburn's College of Education enrolls more than 2500 undergraduate and graduate students. Four academic units offer 60 degree options, equipping our graduates for a variety of career options as educators, administrators, health professionals, counselors, rehabilitation specialists, and more, transforming their communities, our nation, and the world.

In the Beginning 

The college’s first dean and professor, Zebulon Judd, served from 1915 to 1955. The Department of Education was chartered to offer professional courses to teachers who received the Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education degree. The first degrees were awarded in 1920, and by 1925 the School of Education began extension courses for teachers and awarded its first graduate degrees. The Doctorate of Education was approved in 1953. Floreine Hudson was the first woman to earn the degree in 1957.

Judd was succeeded in 1955 by Dean Truman Pierce who served until 1975. The school grew under Pierce’s leadership, wherein he emphasized equality and outreach. Pierce spoke in favor of integration and implemented progressive educational programs to improve community life. The school established the Learning Resources Center in 1962 and the LRC, under the direction of Susan Bannon, has continued to adapt and thrive with new technologies and services. In 1966, Josetta Matthews became the first African American to graduate from Auburn University and later to earn a doctorate from Auburn. Both of her graduate degrees were in education. Her dissertation chair was Andrew Weaver, who served on the faculty for nearly 50 years.

Through the Years

In 1975, Jack Blackburn became the third dean of what became the College of Education during his tenure. Two separate teacher education programs combined in 1981 to form the Department of Curriculum and Teaching. The following year, the Truman Pierce Institute was founded to study and improve teaching, learning, and leadership in the state’s public schools. Also launched at this time were the Summer Enrichment Program in 1983, and the East Alabama Regional Inservice Center in 1984.

The Department of Educational Foundations, Leadership, and Technology was created in 1987 by merging several programs, and in that same year, the college began offering doctoral programs in Counselor Education, Counseling Psychology, Curriculum and Teaching, Health and Human Performance, and Rehabilitation and Special Education.

The College Today

With most of its programs now in place, the college welcomed Richard Kunkel as dean in 1990 where he served for a decade before Fran Kochan, following time as an interim, became in 2005 the first woman to lead the college. Along the way the college began publication of its magazine, The Keystone, in 2003, and the Department of Health and Human Performance became the School of Kinesiology. Led by Director Mary Rudisill, Kinesiology has focused on helping underserved children and those with disabilities learn to live healthier lives. It moved into its new building in 2013, where its research and outreach profile has continued to grow. The college’s graduate programs expanded under the leadership of Dean Betty Lou Whitford, who came to Auburn in 2010. She was succeeded ten years later by Dean Jeffrey Fairbrother, who is leading the college through advances including the completion of a new building for the college and the creation of a Doctor of Physical Therapy program as the college moves into its second century of building a better future for all.

Last updated: 03/20/2024