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First Education Dean Dies


Allen Sisson Whitney
The Michigan Alumnus 5

First Education Dean Dies


An Appreciation
by Professor
 Emeritus Calvin O. Davis,
a
 Colleague of Professor 
Whitney since 1905


Allen Sisson Whitney, officially
 connected with the University of 
Michigan for forty-five years and di
rector of the teachers training work in 
that institution for nearly half of that 
period, died at his home in Ann Arbor, 
 September 9, 1944, aged 87 years. 
 Mr. Whitney was born on a farm 
near Mt. Clemens, Michigan, June 16, 
 1857, and traced his ancestry, on his 
father's side, back to William the
 Conqueror and, on his mother's side, 
 to a long line of German descendents. 
 He was the eleventh child in a family 
of thirteen children. He attended the
 Mt. Clemens high school, from which 
he was graduated in 1876. 


That autumn he began his life ca
reer as a teacher by accepting the
 position of principal of the schools at
 Pewabic Mine in the Upper Peninsula
 of Michigan. Here he remained for
 three years, and then resigned the po
sition to enter the University of Mich
igan. In 1881, however, he interrupted 
his college course and returned to Pewabic Mine for two more years as 
principal. In 1883 he returned to the
 University and was graduated with 
the degree of Bachelor of Arts in
 1885. From 1885 to 1892 he was Su
perintendent of Schools in Mt. Clem
ens and from 1892 to 1899 he filled a 
similar position in Saginaw, East Side. 


Meanwhile Mr. Whitney was con
tinuing his study of educational prob
lems by attendance on summer schools
 at Cornell University, Clark Univer
sity and other institutions in America, 
and by one year's study in the Uni
versities of Jena and Leipsig in Ger
many.


In 1899, Mr. Whitney was called 
to the University of Michigan from
 his position in Saginaw and was given
 the title of Junior Professor of the
 Science and the Art of Teaching and 
Inspector of High Schools. In 1902, 
 he was made Professor of Pedagogy, 
but three years later this title was 
changed to that of Professor of Education. In 1907, on the death of Pro
fessor William H. Payne, he was made
 head of the teacher-training program, 
 and continued as departmental chairman until the department was elevated
 into a separate School of Education 
in 1921. Then, for two years, he bore 
the title of Acting Dean of the School, 
 but in 1923, was made Dean. This 
positon he held until his retirement 
from active service in the University 
in 1929, when he was given the title 
Dean Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of Education. 


In 1921, Professor Whitney was
 awarded the honorary degree of Doc
tor of Laws by the University of Syra
cuse, and in 1939 he was given the 
degree of Doctor of Education by the University of Michigan. 


Throughout his entire life, Mr.
 Whitney was a close student of educational problems and held firmly to
 the conviction that the professional 
training of teachers was not only so
cially desirable, but also pedagogically 
necessary. For him, academic scholar
ship—essential as it was—did not 
alone suffice to qualify an individual 
for the responsible task of instructing
 children and youths. In addition to
 subject matter knowledge, he contend
ed, a teacher needs to be thoroughly 
grounded in psychology and to be
 intimately acquainted with the pro
cesses of child development and inter
ests. Moreover, such a person, he held, 
 could profit greatly from a study of 
the history and philosophy of educa
tion, instructional methods, and school
 administrative practices. Furthermore, 
he believed deeply that teacher train
ing should include opportunities for
 close personal contacts with the reali
ties of school life—realities that involve direct classroom observational
 experiences, cadet teaching done un
der wise supervision, and participation
 in community social affairs. In short, 
 for Professor Whitney, teacher train
ing ought to be as comprehensive and 
thorough as that prescribed for other 
professions, such as law, medicine and
 dentistry.


As an individual, Professor Whit
ney was most democratic in his tastes
 and most direct in his procedures. 
Firm, however, in his convictions and
 always contending fiercely for them, 
 he built his entire life and way of action upon principles, not upon ca
price. A relentless protagonist for
 whatever he considered proper and 
right, he nevertheless held no grudges 
once he was outvoted in matters of
 policy. On the other hand, no matter 
how much opponents might differ with
 his points of view they ever admired 
his courage, persistence and courtesy. 
 In general, too, his coworkers at all 
times loved him. Indeed in all his 
human relationships Professor Whit
ney ever exhibited the instincts of a 
nobleman—his speech and his man
ners always revealing a rare gentility 
of spirit and feeling. Moreover his 
sense of humor was exceptional. He
 was an adept at story telling and
 could enjoy a joke even when the jibe
 was directed to him. In fact he
 was, in the best sense of the word, a 
true sportsman.