College of Education and Human Development Honors Past While Looking to the Future

60 30 logoOn Friday, Feb 1, the College of Education and Human Development held a 60/30 anniversary party. The celebration was a way of memorializing the college’s 60th year in existence and it’s 30th year since integrating ‘Human Development’ into its title.

The historic event included the inaugural bestowment of two new awards, the Ruth Olcott Faculty Award and the Lena Mae Francis Staff Award. The recognition of key educators and staff is important to the college’s mission, as is honoring its past leaders.

The anniversary falls during a time in which the college looks to the future with the launch of a new strategic plan focused on innovation, diversity, and growth. But as the college prepares to cross into a new era, Robert Spina, dean of the college, realized how little was known about its history and those who had laid the groundwork for what it would become.

“Dean Spina asked me to dig through the records to find out a little about the history of the college,” said Mandy Arceneaux, marketing liaison for the college. In her research, Arceneaux learned of Dr. Ruth Olcott, founding dean of the college, honored during the ceremony with an award in her name. She is, historically, one of the most important leadership figures within the institution. From the start of her time as Head of the Department of Education and Teacher Training in 1947, she oversaw many of the college’s milestones.

Quote: She is, historically, one of the most important leadership figures within the institution.In 1951, Lamar University, then named Lamar State College of Technology, had just become a four-year institution which listed Education under its Division of Humanities. In 1954, Dr. Olcott would complete her doctoral work and rise to Chairman of the Division of Education, which included the departments of elementary education, secondary education, home economics, health and physical education.

Over the following decade, the division would undergo a tectonic shift. In 1955, the Education Department awarded students its first ever four-year degrees and, from 1959-1960, Dr. Olcott served as the first dean of the College of Education.

Years later, when Dr. Ruth Olcott retired, students dedicated the 1963 yearbook to her. The copy on the opening pages reads:

Vintage black and white photo of ruth olcott in black rimmed glasses“We, the 1963 CARDINAL staff, dedicate this edition to one who has given much in both the teaching and administrative fields. She has given of her time and of herself to develop the fields of Education and Psychology on this campus, and has furthered the development of the graduate program in Education.”

“It is obvious from the information that we do have about her that she was highly respected by her peers and a very admired educator to her students,” said Arceneaux.

By 1989, Lamar State College of Technology had become Lamar University and the College of Education updated its title to College of Education and Human Development.

Although many of the specifics of who Dr. Ruth Olcott was are lost to time, it is important to Lamar University and the College of Education and Human Development to honor those who played key roles in our school’s growth from its humble beginnings, and to urge us all to be reminded that, at every turn, we too have a chance at making a lasting impression for future educators, staff, and students.

Category: News , General

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