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A History of the University of Missouri-Columbia
College of Education

The University of Missouri's College of Education has a vision to change Missouri and the nation one infant, one child, and one adult at a time. To achieve this vision the College is dedicated to increasing research-based, professional practice that enables people to achieve their highest potential. For most, this will include higher levels of abstract, conceptual learning that can be applied to real world problems. For some it may include basic and functional skills necessary for independent participation in society.

In 1846, the first President of the University of Missouri, John Hiram Lathrop, requested through the Board of Curators, that the Missouri General Assembly authorize and fund a "Normal Professorship" to train teachers for the state's schools. The Board of Curator's request resulted in an act permitting but not requiring the appointment and specifying funding through the University Endowment, Seminary Fund, not general revenues. The result of this failure to fund the position was that the professorship was not filled for over a decade.

In 1855, the Missouri General Assembly passed an act that required the Board of Curators to establish a primary school. The intention of the act seems to have been to create a school to prepare students to enter the Preparatory Department of the University and later the University itself. President Lathrop created the Preparatory Department in 1841, and despite name changes and plans to discontinue the preparatory unit, it continued as a department until abolished by President Laws in 1877. Preparatory work for unprepared students continued within established academic departments until 1894, when all preparatory work at MU ended. The discontinuation of the preparatory program, as a source of qualified applicants to the University, was made possible by the increasing number of accredited High Schools.

The Board of Curators was authorized by an act of the General Assembly to take over the local public school district in 1856. The Columbia Public School district was dissolved in 1857 and the University Preparatory School became the local school. In 1859, a new building was constructed on the Northwest corner of campus to house the new public school. Due to local opposition the Columbia Public School Board was reconstituted in 1859. Parents were then allowed to choose where their children attended school. The primary grades of the preparatory school were discontinued at the beginning of the Civil War, but the secondary grades continued.

In 1867, the Board of Curators established the "College of Normal Instruction." E.L. Ripley of Michigan Normal School was elected as the first Normal Professor and his wife was appointed Principal of the new "Model School." The Normal College was divided into 3 departments: (1) normal school for instructing and training teachers, (2) a preparatory school for preparing students for university admission, and (3) a model school to serve as a ideal demonstration for teaching students from the normal school.

President Laws abolished both the Preparatory School and the Model School in 1877. The following year, Professor Ripley left MU. Miss Grace Bibb, who served as head of the Normal School until 1883, succeeded him. In 1882, the Normal School was changed to the Normal Department. With the departure of Miss Bibb in 1883, the Normal Department was placed under the control of the English Department and Professor of English, David McNally, became the "Dean of the Normal Faculty."

By 1889, the Normal Department became known as the Department of Education, and later the Missouri Teachers' College (MTC) in 1905. Three years later in 1908, the MTC changed to the School of Education. In 1947, the School became the College of Education. The College was finally departmentalized in 1968.


  • School of Information Science and Learning Technologies

  • Department of Curriculum and Instruction

  • Department of Educational Counseling Psychology

  • Department of Physical Education (later Health and Exercise Science)

  • Department of Educational Administration (merged with Higher Adult Education and Foundations)

  • Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis

  • Department of Technical and Vocational Education (PAVTE-Practical Arts & Vocational Technical Education)

  • Department of Industrial Education

  • Department of Special Education

  • Department of Secondary Education

  • University Laboratory School

  • Phi Delta Kappa, Gamma Chapter

Leadership COE

  • 1867-1878 E.L. Ripley
  • 1878-1883 Grace Bibb
  • 1883-1891 David McNally
  • 1891-1898 J.P. Blanton
  • 1898-1903 J.M. White
  • 1898-1904 A. Ross Hill
  • 1903-1907 J.L. Meriam
  • 1908-1910 Isidor Loeb
  • 1910-1917 W.W. Charters
  • 1917-1923 J.H. Coursault
  • 1923-1930 Mervin Neale
  • 1930-1945 Theophil W.H. Irion
  • 1945-1963 Loran G. Townsend
  • 1963-1966 H.W. Schooling
  • 1966-1986 Bob G. Woods
  • 1986-1991 W.R. Miller
  • 1991-1993 Robert Dollar
  • 1993-2005 Richard Andrews
  • 2005-2008 Carolyn D. Herrington
  • 2008-2010 Rosemary T. Porter
  • 2010-present Daniel L. Clay

Sources: University General Catalogs (C:0/51/1); College of Education Catalogs and Bulletins (C:8/23/1); and Stephens, Frank F. A History of The University of Missouri. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1963.

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Copyright © Curators of the University of Missouri 1997 & 2000
Published by: University Archives
Originally Prepared by Stephan Bradley et al.: May 2000
Revised: 21 July 2016

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