Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. College of Education | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
In 1869, Southern Illinois Normal University was founded as an institution of higher education to encourage teacher preparation in Southern Illinois. The "modern" history of university began on May 17, 1943, when President Roscoe Pulliam asked for "a fifth year of work" from the Teachers College Board. This request was tentatively approved.
On 30 June 1943, the Illinois General Assembly approved the idea of graduate studies by passing a measure conferring "limited university status" to Southern. Known as the Crisenberry Bill, for its Senate sponsor, the bill gave official recognition to two realities: (1) that Southern Illinois Normal University had been providing a general education in addition to pedagogical instruction since its beginning in 1874 and (2) that by 1940 there were no other opportunities for a liberal arts and science education anywhere else in the region. The passage of the Crisenberry Bill also paved the way for the influx of veterans who came to state colleges because of the passage of the Serviceman's Readjustment Act of 1944 (GI Bill).
Limited university status allowed Southern Illinois University to grant liberal arts degrees at the bachelor's level and to confer the degree, Master of Science in Education. The school was specifically barred from granting degrees in agriculture, engineering, law, dentistry, medicine and pharmacy. The measure's passage was a compromise between supporter's desiring full university status and opponents, led by University of Illinois, who were jealously guarding their traditional role as "the" state university.
To meet the opportunities afforded by the new designation, President Pulliam reorganized the university into three colleges: The College of Education (first dean was Eugene R. Fair), the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and a College of Vocations. This reorganization was well underway but not complete at the time of President Pulliam's death on March 27, 1944. During the summer session of 1944, the College of Education began offering graduate courses. In June 1945, Arthur Madison of Mt. Vernon, Illinois was awarded the first Master of Science in Education degree.
Southern's influence in public education had become considerable; becoming a haven for teachers, for those already in the field, and for those who sought a modicum of training prior to starting their teaching careers. In 1940 Southern Illinois Normal University had a practice elementary school, a practice high school, and a Child Guidance Clinic (the forerunner of today's Clinical Center), all of which enjoyed a solid reputation throughout the region.
When Southern came under the jurisdiction of an autonomous Board of Trustees in 1951, the new statutes provided for a College of Education composed of the following departments: Education, Library Service, and PE for Men and Women. A reorganization of the College of Education was proposed on August 3, 1956 and was activated by July 1, 1958. The College of Education gives professional training to teachers in all subjects taught in the public schools and to supervisors, administrators, and specialists. The College also functions as consultant for the area and promotes research.