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Dean of Education

Willard Clifford Olson
The Michigan Alumnus 259

WILLARD C. OLSON last week 
assumed his new responsibilities as the third Dean of the Univer
sity's School of Education.

He succeeds Dean James B. Edmon
son, whose long and distinguished
 career on the Michigan faculty came 
to a close with the start of his retire
ment furlough earlier this month.

A pioneer in the field of education, 
Michigan was the first American uni
versity to establish a professorship
 in the science and art of teaching
 when William H. Payne was appointed 
to such a chair within the Literary 
Department in 1879. Through the 
years the importance of the courses 
in education and the relationship of 
the University to the schools and the
 State led eventually to the creation
 of the School of Education as a sepa
rate division. In 1921 Allen S. Whitney was named as its first Dean.

Dr. Olson came to the University 
in 1929, the same year that Dean 
Edmonson succeeded Dean Whitney 
as the head of the School. Through 
his research work in the growth pat
terns and mental development of chil
dren Dr. Olson has gained nation-wide 

In announcing the appointment last 
month, following approval by the
 Board of Regents, President Hatcher 
said that: "Dr. Olson is a productive
 scholar who has made significant and
 extensive contributions to knowledge 
in important new fields. The impact of
 his work has been felt throughout the
 country and has won him high regard 
as a teacher among the students who 
have trained under his direction."

In addition to his research and for
 teaching Dean Olson has been active 
in professional groups and in the 
administrative committees of the Uni
versity. A member of fourteen professional organizations, he has served 
as President of three of them within 
the last three years—Phi Kappa Phi
 and Society for Research in Child
 Development in 1950-51 and the
 American Educational Research Association in 1948-49. 

Born in Annandale, Minnesota, on 
October 8, 1899, Dean Olson holds 
three degrees from the University of 
Minnesota. He first served on the 
Michigan faculty as an Associate Pro
fessor of Education and was promoted 
to the rank of Professor in 1933. Since
 1929 he has also been Director of 
Research in Child Development at the
 University Elementary School.