Dr. Jean Battle was appointed as Dean of the College of Education in December 1959. Dr. Battle had previously served as Dean of Liberal Arts at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida since 1940. Under the leadership of USF President John Allen, he joined a team of newly hired administrators that included Dr. Sidney French, Dean of the College of Basic Studies; Dr. Russell Cooper, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts; and Elliott Hardaway, Director of the USF Library. This team worked closely together to formulate the academic and physical plans of the emerging university.
In an article in the November 1963 edition of the Journal of Teacher Education, Dr. Jean Battle described how the College of Education was implementing an “all-university approach” to teacher preparation programs. He wrote that an all-university council with representatives appointed by President Allen had the responsibility of approving the College of Education programs for teachers at the secondary level with subject matter specialization. Nearly all faculty members in the College of Education had an appointment in at least one other college within the University. This was critical in the development of collaborative relationships across USF, and also to ensure that College of Education faculty would maintain their expertise by teaching in their subject matter area.
Also, secondary teacher candidates in the College of Education were dually enrolled in either the College of Business Administration or the College of Liberal Arts, where they earned a second degree in the area in which they would teach. Dean Battle stated, “We realized that the success of this venture would depend largely on our ability to marshal all of the best brains in all of the academic disciplines of the University working together to prepare teachers of the highest quality.” The joint appointments of faculty ended in 1966, dual enrollment of students in 1970 and the All-University Council continued to function until the early 1970s.
Visiting dignitaries to the College of Education during those early years included: Claude Kirk, Governor of Florida; Dr. Harold Taylor, the president of Sarah Lawrence College; Dr. Harold Benjamin, the author of the nationally acclaimed Saber Tooth Curriculum; and Dr. Harold Gore, the president of Educational Facilities Laboratories.
An article in the June 7, 1970 edition of the State Times stated that Dean Battle announced the formation of a “team task force cluster concept” in the Elementary Education Program. Students at the beginning of their junior year were to be assigned to inner city schools where they would work as teaching assistants in the morning and attend university classes in the afternoon. The elementary school teams were led by Dr. Martha Lou Austin and Dr. James Chambers. Dr. Bob Shannon led a combination elementary and junior high school team. Dr. Russell Wiley led a secondary education team.
The “team task force cluster concept” was an innovative teaching method for its time. The practice of providing a team of students with early and continuous experiences in schools and taught by a group of faculty members throughout the two-year upper level program was not a common teaching tool. The College of Education had previous experience in implementing this program. In 1967, the Professional Physical Education Program had successfully piloted this approach.
Dean Battle did not have a central administrative structure in the College of Education during the early years of his tenure and relied on program coordinators for administrative matters. In 1966, he saw a need for central administrators in the College. At that time, he appointed Dr. Charles Manker as Assistant Dean for Instruction and Research; Dr. Bob Shannon as Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Instruction; Dr. William Dannenburg as Assistant Dean for Administration; and Dr. Ray Urbanek as Assistant Dean for Advising and Certification.
When Dr. Battle resigned his position in the College of Education in 1971 after 12 years as Dean, he had inspired, led, and witnessed the following changes in the USF College of Education:
Dean Battle laid the foundation and set the direction of the College of Education for the first decade and beyond. His belief that education should be a comprehensive learning experience provided the College’s faculty and students with many opportunities for intellectual growth. Dean Battle’s efforts to establish international programs, provide forums for experts with various viewpoints and backgrounds to debate and discuss issues of the day in education, and the establishment of dual appointments for the faculty, provided the environment for the College of Education to become a leader in teacher preparation, faculty research, and service to communities in Florida, across the United States, and around the world.
Dean Battle’s support of academic freedom also proved to be invaluable. When the Johns Committee and its investigators came to USF in the early 1960s to uncover what it considered subversive and communist activities on campus, Dean Battle joined forces with the USF administration to prevent the imposition of standards and practices that would have compromised the academic integrity of the University. (See Dean Battle’s oral history for additional information on the Johns Committee.)
Upon resigning from the deanship in 1971, Dr. Battle became an active member of the faculty of the Social Foundations of Education Program until his retirement from the College of Education in 1989.