100 Years of Educating Educators
In 1909, Johns Hopkins unrolled a plan to serve
By Greg Rienzi
In 1908, university President Ira Remsen helped lure
Edward F. Buchner, a charismatic
professor of education and philosophy at the University of
Alabama, to Johns Hopkins. Buchner's
appointment would have wide-ranging and long-lasting
Buchner not only founded the university's Education
Division a century ago, but one could say he
was the father of formal part-time programs at Johns
Hopkins, which today run the gamut from
business to nursing.
Students in the 1921 Summer
Courses for Teachers gather for a class photograph in front
of Homewood's Gilman Hall. The session was part of the
College Courses for Teachers program that has evolved into
today's School of Education.
Photo courtesy Ferdinand Hamburger
Archives of the Johns Hopkins University
As director of the newly formed Department of
Education at Johns Hopkins, Buchner was asked
to expand the university's academic offerings for adults
— part of its mission almost since its inception
in 1876 — and devise a specific plan for meeting the
needs of Baltimore-area teachers.
The early 1900s, with an influx of immigrants to the
country, witnessed a growing need for
courses for adult students, particularly the training of
public school teachers. In response, Buchner in
1909 helped create the College Courses for Teachers, a
part-time degree program designed for those
already engaged in the profession. The program, one of the
first of its kind, offered collegiate-level
instruction in the field of professional education and the
liberal arts. It enrolled 69 students in eight
courses its first year. Two years later, a summer session
was established to accommodate the rising
demand for courses.
The demand never waned, and this year Johns Hopkins
will celebrate 100 years of leadership in
public education and its new identity, the stand-alone
School of Education formed in January 2007.
To honor the milestone, the School of Education will
host a series of anniversary-related events
in 2009 leading up to a celebration in the fall.
Ralph Fessler, the inaugural dean of the School of Education,
who joined Johns Hopkins in 1983
and will retire at the end of this academic year, said that
while K-12 education study and training at
Johns Hopkins has had many names and homes during the past
100 years, two constants have been a
responsiveness to local and national trends and a focus on
"vulnerable" populations in schools.
"The College Courses for Teachers program was founded
as an effort of outreach to the
Baltimore community, and we have maintained those strong
ties to Baltimore, even while we continue to
grow into a national leader in KŠ12 education," Fessler
The program's first home, at the old downtown campus,
was the original McCoy Hall, which held
the humanities departments. McCoy Hall burned in 1919 while
it was standing nearly vacant, shortly
after the university moved to Homewood in 1915. (A
residence hall on Charles Street now bears the
The College Courses for Teachers was the first
Homewood unit to enroll women, who held a
celebrity status on the campus because the undergraduate
population was then all-male.
Under Buchner's steady hand, the program flourished.
In 1915, Florence E. Bamberger was
appointed instructor in elementary education and helped
expand the program's academic offerings.
The bachelor of science in education was established in
1916. Three students received the degree in
the first year, two of them women.
Through the joint efforts of Buchner and Bamberger,
college courses were first given to
students outside Baltimore City in 1917 through the
university's "extension centers" in surrounding
counties. The program was in great demand but proved to be
a severe strain on the professors and was
dissolved 10 years later.
By 1924, rising student enrollment forced the
university to change the program's name to the
College for Teachers. Buchner, however, had another name in
mind. He wanted it called the School of
Education. He was overruled, in part due to the
university's desire to maintain the program's
connections to other part-time programs.
"From the beginning, the education program became a
magnet for every part-time program that
was created here [at Johns Hopkins], whether it be in
business or engineering," Fessler said.
Christina Godack, assistant dean for external affairs
at the School of Education, said that
Buchner's wish, if fulfilled, would have altered the
"If we had become a School of Education then, it would
have changed the entire history of our
school and all its renditions," Godack said. "We would also
be one of the oldest, if not the oldest,
schools of education in the country."
Buchner was instrumental in the creation of two new
degrees — the master of education and
doctor of education — and what would open in 1929 as
the School of Higher Studies in Education.
Buchner left the school in December 1926 due to
illness, and Bamberger was appointed acting
director of the Education Department until his return. In
1929, Buchner died suddenly on a family
vacation to Germany. He was 61.
Bamberger became director of the School of Higher
Studies in Education, designed to meet the
growing demand of public and private schools for
administrative and supervisory officers trained in
technical and modern scientific education.
The programs and course offerings in education
remained strong and even expanded. By 1931,
the summer session alone enrolled 1,400 students in 150
In 1938, the trustees accepted the unanimous
recommendation of the Academic Council that
the School of Higher Studies in Education be abolished. The
full-time program in education once again
became a department in the Faculty of Philosophy, with
part-time programs offered through the
College for Teachers. The master of education and doctor of
education degrees continued to be
In 1942, several new majors were offered, including
nursing education. Through the cooperation
of the College for Teachers and the School of Nursing at
The Johns Hopkins Hospital, graduate
nurses were able to receive instruction in methods of
nursing education and supervising of nurses.
Bamberger retired in the summer of 1947 on the eve of
the next period of education study at
Johns Hopkins. That year McCoy College was established to
merge education programs with the
expanding need for a broad range of adult education
McCoy College, named for Baltimore businessman John W.
McCoy, became the administrative
umbrella for all the university's part-time programs.
During the McCoy College years, the Education
Department established the master of education
and master of science in education degree programs.
The college acted swiftly in an ever-changing world.
For example, in response to the 1954
landmark Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of
Education, the college developed a curriculum
to promote diversity and provide greater opportunities for
all children in the classroom. After the
Russian satellite Sputnik was launched, the Division of
Education beefed up training in foreign
languages, math and science, as many in the country didn't
want the United States to fall behind its
In 1965, McCoy College became the Evening College to
signify a renewed focus on part-time
evening educational opportunities for professionals in the
workplace. In 1974, the college began to
offer education courses at the Columbia Center, the first
Johns Hopkins classes offered at an off-campus site. A
doctoral program in special education was later established
to help advance research
and content needed to serve children with disabilities.
The Evening College morphed into the School of
Continuing Studies in 1983 to better promote a
nationwide movement of lifelong learning for adult
students. The Education Division would later add a
Master of Arts in Teaching program, the Center for
Technology in Human Disabilities, the Police
Executive Leadership Program and Teach Baltimore, a small
tutorial project to provide academic
support for Baltimore City public school students during
the summer months. In 1988, the School of
Continuing Studies began to offer education classes at the
university's Montgomery County Campus.
In 1999, the school once again changed its name. It
was now called the School of Professional
Studies in Business and Education, under the leadership of
inaugural dean Fessler. SPSBE would exist
until 2007, when the school divided into the Carey Business
School and the School of Education.
Under Fessler's leadership, Johns Hopkins education
programs in 2003 obtained national
accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation
of Teacher Education. The school also
established numerous universitywide collaborations to bring
an interdisciplinary focus to KŠ12
In 2006, the Education Division faculty and staff
moved into its current home, the Education
Building, located at 2800 N. Charles St., marking the first
time Johns Hopkins education programs had
their own building. Previously, the Education Division
occupied space in Whitehead Hall, Shaffer Hall
and a townhouse on East 29th Street.
Today, the School of Education annually awards more
than 500 master's degrees in education,
the largest number by any institution in Maryland. The
school enrolls more than 2,000 students and
employs approximately 60 full-time faculty and 30 research
and professional staff. Classes are
offered at the Homewood, Columbia and Montgomery County
campuses. The school also houses three
research and development centers: the Center for Research
and Reform in Education, the Center for
Technology in Education and the Center for Summer
Fessler said the school will continue to address and
meet the most pressing needs of K-12
schools, such as building leadership capacity and helping
children with special needs to reach their full
Fessler said he also sees increased collaborations
with other university divisions. He points to
the school's Neuro-Education Initiative, in collaboration
with the JHU Brain Science Institute, that
fosters dialog among educators and researchers in the brain
sciences to develop joint research
projects and explore how current findings have application
to educational practice. The initiative will
host an event in May called The JHU Education Summit:
Learning, Arts and the Brain, which will
feature faculty from the schools of Education and Medicine
discussing the latest in brain research
and its potential impact on classroom learning.
"We are really excited about such collaborations. We
will certainly stay true to our roots, but
this is just one way we seek to better prepare teachers in
the 21st century," Fessler said.
For a full listing of anniversary events, go to
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