College of Education

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Our History

Founded in 1905, the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is renowned for its groundbreaking research, the preparation of leaders in the field of education, and its worldwide impact.

College Highlights



The School of Education is officially organized under the College of Liberal Arts. Edwin Grant Dexter, author of A History of Education in the United States (1904), becomes the first Director of the School.

Education students studying


Under the new organization, the School of Education could now grant the University Certificate of Qualification to Teach.



William C. Bagley replaced Stephen Sheldon Colvin, acting Director of the School and professor of psychology, to become the second Director of the School of Education.

Kappa Delta students


On March 8, 1911, the alpha chapter of Kappa Delta Pi was founded by the University of Illinois Education Club to foster excellence in education and promote fellowship among those dedicated to teaching.

U of I Branch Put Up To Board Article


Approximately 2,500 Chicago public school teachers signed a petition requesting the city board of education to construct a University of Illinois School of Education in Chicago.

New construction of building


A new building was to be erected for the School of Education, later to be the first College of Education Building. Today, we know the building as the University Laboratory High School.

El Nino Mexicano En Texas book


Herschel T. Manuel earned his Ph.D. degree from the School of Education. Manuel became a leading expert on Mexican American education and during his career remained widely recognized for his pioneering studies on Spanish-speaking students in the United States.



W.W. Charters replaced William Bagley as the third Director of the School of Education at Illinois. Charters has the distinction of serving as the first Dean of the College of Education, from 1918-1919.

Meeting of the board of trustees announcement


After decades of service, in 1918 the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Board of Trustees formally established the College of Education.



Charles E. Chadsey, former school principal and superintendent in Colorado, replaces W.W. Charters to become the second Dean of the College of Education.



The Bureau of Educational Research is established to disperse educational research and contribute to the improvement of education across the state of Illinois.



Professors across campus began working with the College's Bureau Educational Research to disperse research on education topics.

Meeting announcement


The College of Education faculty organizes the First Annual School Superintendents Meeting. The meeting was intended to bridge ties between practitioners and university faculty.

University Laboratory School


University Laboratory High School serves as the teaching laboratory for the College of Education, a public secondary school that was the original site of the College.



Thomas E. Benner, former Chancellor of the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras (1924-1929) and visiting professor of administration of higher education at Columbia University's Teachers College (1929-1931), becomes the third Dean of the College.

Graduate students in classroom


The College of Education developed a new graduate professional program leading to Master's of Education (Ed.M.) and Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) degrees.

World War II Naval Officer call-out


During the U.S. involvement in World War II, the College initiated new programs to participate in the war effort, including the training of 800 prospective teachers of Air Corps mechanics.



Willard B. Spalding, who held a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Harvard University, becomes the fourth Dean of the College of Education. Prior to becoming dean at Illinois, Spalding served as a school principal and superintendent in districts in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Oregon.

Lee J Cronbach


Lee J. Cronbach came to the University of Illinois and made major contributions in the fields of educational psychology and psychological testing. Cronbach developed the most frequently used measure of the reliability of psychological and educational test, called Cronbach's alpha.

Winifred D. Kirk Book


College of Education faculty become leaders in the burgeoning field of special education. Early research publications by Samual B. Kirk, Merle B Karnes, and Winifred D. Kirk reach an international audience.

Max Beberman


Max Beberman, professor of education and teacher at University High School, founded new mathematics, a method of teaching math that went beyond the usual rote learning.

Educating Exceptional Children book


The Institute for Research on Exceptional Children's mission was to increase knowledge about exceptional children and improve the effectiveness of special education programs by conducting systematic, longitudinal, and comprehensive interdisciplinary research. Samual Kirk's book titled Educating Exceptional Children (1962) is currently in its 14th edition and remains widely used.



B. L. Dodds becomes the fifth Dean of the College of Education. During his tenure, a joint Ph.D. program is established between the College of Education and the Psychology Department leading to the founding of the Training Research Laboratory.



University Laboratory High School was contracted by the U.S. Office of ducation to make films on teacher training. Margaret Mead, world renowned anthropologist meets with members of the University of Illinois Committee on School Mathematics (UICSM) film project staff.

Journal on Rehabilitation of the Deaf


Faculty in the College begin to contribute to the understanding of deaf children and their education. The founding of Journal of Rehabilitation of the Deaf (JRD) in 1967 was strongly supported by faculty in the College of Education. JRD was published as a University of Illinois Bulletin.



Merle B. Karnes, Professor of Special Education at the Institute of Child for Behavior and Development, became one of the nation's leading experts in special education.



Alonzo Grace becomes the sixth Dean of the College of Education. During his tenure, the College's Alumni Association is founded, and the College reorganizes into seven departments.

Samual Kirk


The Institute for Research on Exceptional Children, founded and directed by professor Samuel Kirk, was transformed into the Department of Special Education. Kirk's research led to the creation of Head Start, a federally-funded program that provides educational, health, and social services to underprivileged preschoolers to this day.



The Department of Educational Psychology was established as part of the administrative reorganization within the College of Education. Faculty included Lee Cronbach ( 1949-1963).

Home economics article


Home Economics becomes a division in the Vocational & Technical Education (VOTEC) Department.

HPE Education article


B.O. Smith, William O. Stanley, Archibald Anderson, Foster McMurray, and Harry Broudy founded the Department of History and Philosophy of Education. The department is currently named the Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership.



Robert Stake arrived at the university, where he began his career in the evaluation of educational programs. In 1975, he became the director of the Center of Instructional Research and Curriculum Evaluation (CIRCE).

Construction of the new College of Education building


When erected in the early 1960s, the new Education Building was the physical embodiment of modern thinking.. Designed by A. Richard Williams, B.S. '36 Architecture, also a UI professor for 24 years, it was completed in 1963 and hailed as a work of his original "Mid-Continent Modern" style.



The Center for Instructional Research and Curriculum Evaluation was organized to conduct a program of research, instruction, and service in education with special attention to curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment. J. Thomas Hastings was the first director.

Welcome sign in College of Education


The Education Alumni Association (EAA), the official education arm of the University of Illinois Association was founded in 1964. The purpose of the association was to uplift the teaching profession and provide continued improvement of professional services, experiences, and programs provided by the College of Education.



Rupert N. Evans becomes the seventh Dean of the College of Education. The College reorganizes into seven departments (History and Philosophy of Education, elementary Education, Secondary Education, Special Education, Vocational Education, and Educational Psychology.)



The Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood (ERIC/EECE) has provided information for educators, parents and families, and individuals interested in the development, education, and care of children from birth through early adolescence. Lilian G. Katz was the director from 1970-2000.

Man putting headphones on student


The College of Education enrolled approximately 200 of the 690 students that came to Illinois a part of Project 500. This was a university wide program that recruited students from racially underrepresented backgrounds to enroll at Illinois. Through the Alternative Teacher Education Program (ATEP), these students were primarily trained to be elementary and secondary education teachers.



The first quarterly issue of the Journal of Aesthetic Education was published in March 1968 with Ralph A. Smith, professor of Aesthetic Education, as its editor. The journal clarified issues of aesthetic education while offering new educational responses to improve the general quality and style of education.



J. Myron Atkin was the eighth Dean of the College of Education. Atkin emphasized the central role of teachers in designing high quality science education programs, improvement of the science curriculum, practical reasoning in teachers and children, and case methods in research.

Education students studying


The College implemented the Cooperative Teacher Education Program (CTEP) in the Chicago suburbs to give practical experience to secondary education students. The goal of the program was to involve teacher trainees in public school classrooms so trainees would blend educational theory with practice.



The College of Education became the coordinating center for the International Association for Evaluation of Educational Achievement's Second International Mathematics Study. Professor Kenneth J. Travers of the Department of Secondary Education served as the Director.

Richard Anderson


The College of Education, in collaboration with U.S. Department of Education, established the Center for the Study of Reading to address the unacceptably high number of school children who were failing to learn to read. Professor Richard C. Anderson has served as the sole director of CSR since 1976.



Joe R. Burnett becomes the ninth Dean of the College of Education. During this period, the College's Teacher Education program is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).



The College's Department of Administration, Higher, and Continuing Education established two new programs. It extended course offerings by creating a new Higher Education program which joined the Educational Administration program in offering program options at an off-campus center.

Merle Karnes


Established by the late Merle B. Karnes in 1982—one of the co-founders of the Illinois Gifted Program—the University Primary School is an early childhood gifted education program which serves children between the ages of 3 and 7.



Professor of Educational Psychology Nancy S. Cole became the tenth Dean of the College in 1985 and the first woman to serve in this capacity. Under her leadership, the College of Education established the Year Long Project which placed elementary education students in student teaching experiences for one year. Cole also served as the president of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), 1988-89.

Student studying


The Department of Curriculum and Instruction, established in the fall of 1987, combined the pre-existing Secondary Education and Elementary and Early Childhood Education Departments to provide undergraduate programs in teacher education and graduate programs in curriculum and instruction.

Bagley Scholars


The Bagley Scholarship Program was created to award the College's top-students with merit-based scholarships. These awards are funded from gifts of alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of the College of Education and named after William Chandler Bagley, an early Director of the former School of Education.



Professor of Curriculum and Instruction P. David Pearson becomes the eleventh Dean of the College of Education. While at Illinois, Pearson, whose research interests focus on literacy history and policy, also co-directed the Center for the Study of Reading.



The Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL) was founded with funding from the Illinois State Board of Education to provide research for community colleges in the state of Illinois. Debra D. Bragg, Edward William and Jane Marr Gutgsell Endowed Professor Emeritus of higher education, is the founding director of OCCRL.

Students sharing information about Epsilon Delta


Epsilon Delta Professional Teaching Fraternity was established in 1989 to prepare undergraduate students for the education profession. Today, it continues to provide an opportunity for students to network and exchange ideas and concerns regarding educational issues.



The Grayce Wicall Gauthier Professorship in Education was endowed in 1992 by U of I alumnus C.J. (Joe) Gauthier to honor his first wife, a graduate of the College of Education.

SEA members


The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign chapter of the Student Education Association (SEA) is for students who wants to broaden their knowledge and experience in the field of education.

Recipients of Distinguished Alumni Awards


The Distinguished Alumni Awards were established by the Education Alumni Association (EAA) in 1995 to publicly recognize the outstanding contributions of our graduates.



Mildred B. Griggs becomes the twelfth Dean of the College of Education. She is the second female and first African American to serve as Dean of the College of Education. After her time as dean, Griggs went on to receive her law degree from the College of Law at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.



Susan A. Fowler becomes the thirteenth Dean of the College of Education. In 2018, Fowler received th eCouncil for Exceptional Children J.E. Wallace Allin Special Education Lifetime Achievement Award.

CPED logo


The Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate (CID), a multi-year research and action project aimed at improving doctoral education at American universities selected the Department of Educational Psychology as one of the 22 "Allied Departments" in a five-year national study that analyzed doctoral programs and linked specific activities to desired outcomes.

Parents smiling with two early childhood students


The Early Childhood collective (ECAP), established in 2003, is made up of multiple projects aimed at providing evidence-based information and resources to strengthen families and help professionals enhance inclusive early care and education.

Graduate GSE student


An online master's program in Global Studies in Education (GSE) was introduced to help educators around the world explore ways global perspectives can be incorporated into existing curricula and pedagogies.

James D. Anderson


James D. Anderson is named Edward William and Jane Marr Gutgsell Professor of Education. This honor is awarded by the Chancellor of the Urbana-Champaign campus to recognize distinguished service and outstanding contributions by university faculty.



The Higher Education Collaborative is formed by EOL faculty and students "as an interdepartmental, cross-disciplinary affiliation of individuals with teaching, scholarly research, and other professional interests in high learning in the United States and around the globe." Stanley O. Ikenberry was President Emeritus of the University of Illinois, Professor in EOL, and HEC founding member.



Charles Dunn Hardie, a former visiting scholar at the university, left a $4 million endowment to the College of Education to advance educational scholarship and impact in various ways. Walter Feinberg, longtime professor of philosophy of education in the Department of Educational Policy Studies, was named the first Charles Hardie Professor.

Goldstick family


The Goldstick Initiative for Study of Communication Disorders is an endowment in the Department of Special Education to help children and their families bridge communication gaps. The endowment was formed by Phillip C. and Beverly Goldstick.

Queries creator


Professor of Educational Psychology Hua-hua Chang, along with other scholars, developed and applied new methodologies to engage with multiple research activities through Education Psychology and the Quantitative Evaluative & Research Methodologies (QUERIES) degree program was born.



Mary Kalantzis became the fourteenth Dean of the College of Education, previously serving in the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership. Kalantzis is a world leader in the 'new literacy studies', focusing on multimodality and diversity in contemporary communications.

Teacher engaging with STEM elementary students


The Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education (MSTE) division of the College of Education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is formed. It has evolved as a learning system promoting between widely dispersed academic researchers, K-12 school-teachers, administrators, and students at all levels, as well as supportive interactions with board of experienced advisors.

Elementary students laughing in classroom


Noting that 75% of all schools are found in urban areas, the Center for Education in Small Urban Communities is formed as a research, teaching, and outreach unit to build partnerships with surrounding schools.



The Forum for the Future of Public Education was established to provide objective, research-based insights on key educational issues. Stanley Ikenberry was the inaugural co-director of the Forum and named Regent Professor of Education.



The National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), housed in the College of Education, is established as a research and resource-development organization. George D. Kuh is founding director, a senior scholar and co-PI of NILOA, and an adjunct research professor in the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership.

Stafford Hood


On September 15, 2008, Stafford L. Hood became the inaugural Sheila M. Miller Professor of Education and new head of the Department of Curriculum & Instruction. Hood, who passed away in 2023 was the co-founder and co-director of a well-regarded forum on the Relevance of Assessment and Culture in Evaluation (RACE), established in 2002.

Youth Literature Festival logo


The College of Education proudly hosted its first Youth Literature Festival, October 2-4, 2008. Since 2008, more than 19,000 downstate Illinois grade school students have been reached through YLF author visits.

Teacher instructing classroom of elementary students


The College of Education establishes the Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment (CREA) to investigate the impact and utility of culture and cultural context in educational evaluation, assessment, research, and policy analysis. Stafford Hood was founding director of CREA.

Webpage for CG Scholar


CG Scholar, a digital assessment platform, is created by an interdisciplinary research team led by EPOL professors William Cope and Mary Kalantzis to encourage peer interaction and promote complex learning in a social media environment.

Cover of LES flyer


The College of Education creates a new undergraduate degree program by adding a non-licensure Bachelor of Science in Learning &. Education Studies with four concentrations to prepare students for education careers in agencies, businesses, and government.

Yew Chung


The Yew-Chung – Bernard Spodek Scholar in Early Childhood Education was created by a significant gift from alumna Betty Chan Po-king in honor of her mentor, Dr. Benard "Bud" Spodek. Assistant professor in Curriculum and Instruction's Stephanie Sanders-Smith is the first awardee.

Students engaging with IDEALL technology


The Illinois Digital Ecologies and Learning Laboratory (IDEALL) is created to enable researchers to engage in technology-enhanced learning environments and conduct fine-grained research on learning technologies through interdisciplinary partnerships.

OneOp logo


Faculty and students in the Department of Special Education begin assisting the Military Families Learning Network (now known as OneOp) with a focus on enhancing the capacity of professionals who deal with young children at risk for disabilities and developmental delays.

James D. Anderson


James D. Anderson became the fifteenth Dean of the College of Education. In 2021, Anderson was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS). In 2020, the AERA awarded him a Presidential Citation, its highest award. He was also elected to the National Academy of Education in 2008.



Education technology scholar Emma Mercier and her team develop the Food for Thought app, which helps make kids aware of the causes and impacts of their food choices on climate change.

DPI building


The Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) is established in Chicago with leadership from the College of Education. Education Policy, Organization and Leadership professor and Bureau of Educational Research director Jessica Li is named inaugural chair of the Education & Workforce Development Taskforce.

Student engaging with Tier-Ed technology


Technology Innovation in Educational Research and Design (TIER-ED), a community of interdisciplinary researchers and designers who develop cutting-edge applications of technologies critical issues in education and learning across the lifespan is established.

Elementary student on laptop


The Illinois Secondary Teacher Education and Computer Science (I-STECS) Initiative is a collaborative alliance of the College of Education, Grainger College of Engineering, and the Council on Teacher Education organized to train Illinois K-12 educators in teaching computer science.

100th Anniversary


The Bureau of Education Research (BER) celebrates its 100-year anniversary. The BER has continuously transformed itself over its first 100 years to remain relevant and vital to educators across the state and the nation.

O'Leary Learning Center


The O'Leary Learning Center, a 4400 square foot laboratory space, is created in the College of Education, designed to advance research and teaching for enhanced collaboration of interdisciplinary research projects, online learning, and STEM instruction. The center is made possible by a generous gift from Illinois graduates Richard and Ann O'Leary, who contributed $1.5 million to the project.

Illinois Statewide K-12 Computer Science Education Summit


The College organizes the inaugural Illinois Statewide K-12 Computer Science Education Summit with community and education partners, bringing together educators from around the state of Illinois to make computer science curriculum recommendations and improve Illinois students' STEM education.

LearnAway welcome screen


To support teachers and students at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, is launched to provide curriculum resources for educators serving remote learners from birth through grade 12.

Team of education faculty


The College of Education hosts a Virtual Town Hall Meeting addressing Anti-Black Racism. In the wake of George Floyd's death and protests and demonstrations and around the globe, nationally recognized thought leaders in social justice, equality, and the study of systemic racism shared their perspectives.

We CU logo


College of Education leadership guides development of We CU, a service-centered public engagement program at the University of Illinois that matches students with local community-based organizations and projects.

Two elementary students from the Freedom School


After a 10-year absence, Freedom School is re-established in Champaign-Urbana to provide summer enrichment programs focused on literacy and African American culture for K-fifth grade students.

Middle school iGlobal students


iGlobal, an online international program designed to get middle-schoolers from around the world to communicate and collaborate with one another is launched in 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Emily Stone


Emily Stone is named the inaugural Director of Public Engagement in the College of Education. As part of her broader role, Stone also co-directs the campus-wide CU Community Engaged Scholars Program and co-leads the Community Academic Partnerships Core at the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute.

Anjali Forber-Pratt


Alumna Anjali Forber-Pratt is named Director of the National Institute of Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) by the White House.

Student discussing options


Funded with a $5M grant from the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois Center for Transition and Work is established to offer state-wide training and technical assistance to school personnel, rehabilitation counselors, and families to improve post-school employment outcomes for students with significant disabilities.

James D. Anderson


In 2022, the Illinois State Legislature honored Dean James. D. Anderson with a proclamation recognizing his “invaluable contributions” to the state of Illinois and the discipline of education.

Signing of the HB2170


The College of Education launches in-service teacher education trainings in Media Literacy, Asian American History, Computer Science, and Inclusive American History per Illinois HB2170 mandates for Illinois K-12 public schools.

With I Campaign logo


The With Illinois campaign concludes — raising more than $32M for the College of Education, including 75 new undergrad scholarships and 13 new graduate fellowships.

Dean Chrystalla Mouza


Chrystalla Mouza became the sixteenth Dean of the College of Education in 2022. Mouza has expertise in learning sciences and teacher learning, applications of technology in K-12 classrooms, teaching and learning outcomes in ubiquitous and mobile computing environments and computer science education.



The National Science Foundation awarded $20 million over five years to establish the Inclusive and Intelligent Technologies for Education (INVITE) Institute, based in the College of Education at the Urbana campus.