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Memorial

Allen Sisson Whitney
Faculty Senate

Allen Whitney was connected with the University of Michigan for forty-five years and director 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 descendants. 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 career 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 position to enter the University of Michigan. 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 Superintendent of Schools in Mt. Clemens and from 1892 to 1899 he filled a similar position in Saginaw, East Side.

Meanwhile Mr. Whitney was continuing his study of educational problems by attendance on summer schools at Cornell University, Clark University and other institutions in America, and by one year's study in the Universities of Jena and Leipzig in Germany.

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 Professor 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 position 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 Doctor of Laws by the University of Syracuse, 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 socially desirable, but pedagogically necessary. For him, academic scholarship-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 contended, a teacher needs to be thoroughly grounded in psychology and to be intimately acquainted with the processes of child development and interests. Moreover, such a person, he held, could profit greatly from a study of the history and philosophy of education, instructional methods, and school administrative practices . . Furthermore, he believed deeply that teacher training should include opportunities for close personal contacts with the realities of school life-realities that involve direct classroom observational experiences, cadet teaching done under wise supervision, and participation in community social affairs. In short, for Professor Whitney, teacher training ought to be as comprehensive and thorough as that prescribed for other professions, such as law, medicine and dentistry.

As an individual, Professor Whitney 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 caprice. 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 Whitney ever exhibited the instincts of a nobleman-his speech and his manners always revealing a rare gentility of spirit and feeling. Moreover his sense of humor was exceptional. He was an adept at storytelling and could enjoy a joke even when the jibe was directed to himself. In fact he was, in the best sense of the word, a true sportsman.