The Quizmaster column recently posed the question, “What postsecondary institution is credited with having established in 1879 the first permanent chair in any American college or university devoted to the preparation of teachers?” (Education Week, Sept. 12, 1984). Your response in the following week’s issue said that “the University of Michigan is credited with having established in 1879 the first permanent faculty chair in any American college or university devoted to the preparation of teachers.”
However, information gathered in connection with the Centennial Celebration of the College of Education at the University of Missouri-Columbia states that: “In 1857, the [Missouri] General Assembly established a normal professorship, appropriated funds to pay the salary, and Sterling Price Jr., nephew of General Sterling Price, was appointed to the post.”
Therefore, the answer to your original question as it relates to the specific date may be correct, but there was a “normal professorship” established by the General Assembly in Missouri long before the date to which you refer.
Charles H. Koelling Associate Dean College of Education University of Missouri-Columbia Columbia, Mo.
Editor’s note: Thank you for bringing the Missouri professorship to our attention. The answer to the Sept. 12 Quizzmaster question was confirmed by two sources. First, on page 55 of The School and Society (Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale, Ill., 1980), the educator John Dewey credits the University of Michigan with having founded the oldest university chair in pedagogy in the country. Second, a spokesman for the university noted during a telephone conversation that the institution’s school of education takes credit for this “first” in a brochure that it publishes.
A version of this article appeared in the November 07, 1984 edition of Education Week as Letters To The Editor