The College of Education and Human Services
A Brief History
West Virginia University’s College of Education was established on July 2, 1927, by an order of the Board of Governors with the recommendation of the State Board of Education. Prior to that time, “education” and the preparation of teachers was administered by a department within the College of Arts and Science, under the direction of Jasper Newton Deahl. Holding undergraduate degrees from George Peabody and Harvard College, Deahl went on to earn a master’s degree and doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Lobbying to establish a separate College of Education, Deahl gained the support of West Virginia University President Frank Trotter (1916-1927). Trotter and Deahl believed that an independent college was necessary for the competent, professional preparation of teachers and education administrators.
However, the creation of a separate education college resulted in significant political maneuvering and a power struggle with the College of Arts and Sciences. Although Deahl went on to become the founding dean of the College of Education, the conflict with Arts and Sciences eventually led to the resignation of President Trotter.
At its inception, the College of Education was based in iconic Woodburn Hall and offered degrees in seven divisions: agricultural education; industrial education; home economics; rural education; visual education; professional teacher training; and the University High School. Established in 1925, University High School served as the “laboratory school” for the new College of Education. The high school modeled its program after the well-known Dalton School developed by the progressive educator Helen Parkhurst in Dalton, Massachusetts. The students attending University High School were from the Cass, Union, and Clinton school districts, which did not have a high school at the time. Deahl believed these students better represented rural West Virginia and thus provided future teachers exposure to the type of student they were likely to face in the classroom.
In the early years, according to professor emeritus Thomas J. Brennan, a decision was made “not to duplicate the extensive teacher education programs of the state colleges.” Thus, the College of Education was predominantly a two-year college. Students who wanted to become teachers took subjects in various WVU colleges before transferring to the College of Education for their final two years of professional training.
In 1947, twenty years after it was established, the College of Education extended its program offerings beyond secondary education when it began preparing primary school teachers. The College went on to grant its first undergraduate degree in elementary education in 1950.
The College of Education expanded substantially in the mid-1960s, when it became known as the College of Human Resources and Education.
At that time, the term “human resources” had not yet acquired its now universal reference to “personnel.” In addition to the Division of Education and the Division of Clinical Studies (which included counseling and guidance, speech pathology and audiology, special education, rehabilitation counseling and developmental reading), there were two other divisions: Home Economics and Social Work.
In 1969, the addition to Percival Hall known as Allen Hall was completed, and the College of Human Resources and Education moved from the downtown campus to its new home on the Evansdale campus, where it continues to reside.
In 2012, the WVU Board of Governors approved a change of name to the College of Education and Human Services to better represent its programs and educational goals, as well as to avoid confusion with WVU’s own Division of Human Resources. Today, the College of Education and Human Services (CEHS) comprises five academic departments:
- Communication Sciences and Disorders
- Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling, and Counseling Psychology
- Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies
- Learning Sciences and Human Development
- Special Education
With a rich history of serving West Virginia, the mission and specific goals of CEHS continue to evolve, as do its programs. Now, over eighty-five years after it was established, CEHS continues to meet the changing needs of the community that it serves. The five-year dual-degree teacher education program, which graduated its first class in May 2000, is an example of the responsiveness of the College to changing educational needs. Currently, CEHS is undergoing a planning process that has provided renewed focus to its mission through a new strategic plan. The College is proud of the degree opportunities that it offers, its student body, its alumni, and its dedicated faculty and staff. While recognizing its distinguished past, CEHS remains ever-focused on the future.