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williams_henry-webThe Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education has a long and rich history dating back to May 11, 1886, with the founding of a Normal Department at Ohio University. The Normal Department - the predecessor to today's Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education - was the first state-supported teacher preparation program in Ohio.

Under the leadership of John Gordy, two courses of study were established. One prepared the secondary academy teacher, while the other prepared the elementary teacher. The curriculum included courses such as the Science of Education, the National Perspective on Education, Theory of Concentration, Education Reforms and Philosophy of Mind. Thirteen individuals earned the first degrees and certificates offered in 1891.

The curricula for teacher education at Ohio University dates back to earlier days, with OHIO's beginnings as an academy. Academies - common in the 19th century as bridges between common schools and colleges - typically offered three curricula: Classical, for college preparation; English, as a finishing/vocational school; and Normal, for teacher education. The first Normal course at OHIO was created in 1831, with a Model School being added in 1837. According to Robert Wynn Frey, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on the history of the Ohio University's College of Education, the Normal course and Model School comprised the first teacher preparation program of its kind at a collegiate institution in the United States.

The Normal courses and Model School reached their peak in the 1840s, with more than 20 students enrolled in Normal courses and 60 students involved in the Model School. It was at this same time, however, that the University hit hard financial times and was forced to shut its doors for a period. By the time OHIO reopened, interest in Normal education had waned and was phased out of the curriculum altogether by the 1860s. Interestingly, this also was around the same time that the Ohio School Law of 1853 set up a system of public schools throughout the state, but the law did not provide for teacher training. Private schools stepped into the breach to run institutes or short courses to train teachers.

In the years following the Civil War, OHIO was struggling with increasing debt, which was compounded by state-mandated free tuition for veterans and decreasing paid enrollment. In an effort to bring in more students, the University instituted Teachers' Classes. After some initial success, enrollments again flagged. The content-based focus of the Teachers' Classes did not appeal to practicing teachers and students. With the help of former school superintendent and OHIO trustee John Hancock, it was determined that a focus should be placed on pedagogy and psychology. Hancock and Ohio University President Charles Super enlisted the help of OHIO alumni and state House member William Matthews to have funds voted by the state in 1886 to establish a Normal Department at Ohio University, Ohio's first teacher preparation program.

On September 9, 1902 the State Normal College opened its doors to aspiring teachers. In 1907, Ohio University became the home of the state's first Kindergarten, and in 1908, Ellis Hall was completed, which served as Ohio's first state building dedicated to teacher education. Gordy Hall opened in 1912 followed by Rufus Putnam Hall in 1926, both of which served as training schools for prospective teachers.

Teacher Education at Ohio University has always been grounded in practice, so the buildings were used not only for teacher training, but as schools for children. The top floor of Ellis Hall housed John Hancock High School and served as a training ground for secondary education beginning in 1917. Likewise, Rufus Putnam Hall became the Rufus Putnam School, which served as a laboratory for students in elementary education from 1926 to 1972.

Putnam_001As part of Ohio University's first realignment in 1935, the State Normal College became OHIO's College of Education. In 1948, Dr. George E. Hill established the Department of Guidance, Counseling and Student Personnel, and in 1997 the Department of Educational Studies was founded, expanding the College's departments to three.

On January 11, 2010, President Roderick J. McDavis announced a private gift of $13.3 million from 1938 alumna Ms. Violet L. Patton to benefit arts education at OHIO and provide for the establishment of The Violet L. Patton Center for Arts Education. Just three weeks later, President McDavis announced a second transformational gift that would forever change the face - and name - of the College of Education.

On February 4, 2010, President McDavis announced that Ms. Violet L. Patton had donated $28 million to the College of Education in honor of her parents, Gladys and David Patton, making her one of OHIO's greatest benefactors. It was the largest gift to any college of education in Ohio, and the second largest single gift to any college of education in the nation. In honor of Ms. Patton's parents, the College became known as The Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education, only the third named college of education in Ohio.

At the time of the gift, the College of Education was undergoing realignment with several outstanding programs from the College of Health and Human Services: Physical Education; Recreation Studies; Coaching Education; Early Childhood; Restaurant Hotel, and Tourism; Retail Merchandising; and Family and Consumer Sciences Education.

In light of this realignment, the College received its new, permanent name on July 1, 2010: The Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education.

Today, the College comprises five excellent departments: Counseling and Higher Education, Human and Consumer Science Education, Educational Studies, Recreation and Sport Pedagogy, and Teacher Education.