By Jana Cunningham, communications specialist, University Marketing and Communications
Since 1960, students studying to become educators at the University of Utah have been taking classes in Milton Bennion Hall. On Dec. 8, alumni, students and faculty celebrate the legacy of Milton Bennion and bid a fond farewell to the building that helped shape the futures of thousands of general and special education teachers, counselors, administrators and educational leaders. The building will soon come down to make space for the David Eccles School of Business.
“What I experienced during my time in Milton Bennion Hall was a life changer; it enabled me to learn more, to appreciate who I am, what skills I have, what new skills I need to learn and how I can contribute to education,” said Cecelia H. Foxley, former Utah commissioner of higher education who received her doctorate in educational psychology from the U in 1968. “It enabled me to have a whole new future.”
Named after Milton Bennion, who served as dean of the School of Education for 28 years (1913-1941), he was well known for his Socratic teaching style and his keen interest in personal and social ethics and character education. Bennion also served as vice president of the university from 1940-1941.
“A big part of Bennion’s legacy, which still continues today was his focus on character education and the role of education, not only in academics, but also in preparing individuals to be good citizens and character development,” said Michael Hardman, chief global officer for the U and former dean of the college. “In my early years of being a professor, I read a lot about Milton Bennion and it shaped a lot of my thinking.”
In 2013, the College of Education found a new home in the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts and Education Complex, but Milton Bennion Hall continued to be used for classes, clinics, and office space for faculty. Since the building opened, every education student has taken classes in that space.
“The building has been home for remarkable students, incredible research innovations, and distinguished faculty for over half a century,” said María E. Fránquiz, dean of the college. “With renewed vigor and rigor, all students will continue to receive the support necessary to maintain the excellence that is the legacy of Milton Bennion Hall.”
The U has been educating teachers since 1869 when the Normal School was established on campus. Normal schools were created to train high school graduates to be teachers and establish teaching standards. In 1912 the program expanded to a four-year curriculum and was renamed the School of Education. In 1941, the College of Education was officially approved and now supports the departments of education, culture and society, educational leadership and policy, educational psychology, special education and the Urban Institute for Teacher Education. The college has graduated more than 18,000 students.
“Educating future teachers has and will remain the number one priority of the college. We continue to be dedicated to preparing teachers, administrators, school psychologists, counselors, professors and community leaders to improve the learning experience of all children,” added Fránquiz.