Epilogue: “Lots of Pep! Lots of Steam!”

  • Christine A. Ogren


At the beginning of the twentieth century, state normal schools thrived throughout the United States. A century later, most of these institutions had higher stature as state colleges or regional universities, and yet had lost much of their distinctive identity. In November 2000, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that, as mere “lesser versions of their states’ flagship universities,” many state colleges were again “looking for a makeover.” In such recent discussions of program expansion and name changes at these institutions, reporters and scholars have invoked the term “mission creep.”1 The history of the American state normal school suggests that “mission creep” more accurately characterizes much of the early decades of many regional public colleges and universities, and actually helped to create their distinctive identity. Education reformers of the early nineteenth century and state legislators, education leaders, and normal-school principals of the middle and late nineteenth century intended to establish and maintain single-purpose institutions focused on teacher preparation. After a few decades in which they did little more than instill the notion of teaching as a calling, state normal schools did create a strong professional spirit through teacher-education coursework, observation and practice teaching, and student activities. While teacher preparation remained their official purpose, however, the normal schools were never really single-purpose institutions.


Teacher Preparation Normal School Literary Society Domestic Science Academic Procession 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Epilogue: “Lots of Pep! Lots of Steam!”

  1. 1.
    Jeffrey Selingo, “Facing New Missions and Rivals, State Colleges Seek a Makeover,” The Chronicle of Higher Education (November 17, 2000): A40Google Scholar
  2. See also Jeffrey Selingo, “Mission Creep?” The Chronicle of Higher Education (May 31, 2002): A19;Google Scholar
  3. Kit Lively, “What’s in a Name? Just Ask Colleges that Want to Be Called Universities,” The Chronicle of Higher Education (June 13, 1997): A33–A34Google Scholar
  4. For a scholarly review of similar issues, see Christopher C. Morphew, “‘A Rose by Any Other Name’: Which Colleges Became Universities,” The Review of Higher Education 25 (Winter 2002): 207–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Scholarship on teacher education also makes reference to this loss of identity; see, e.g., Geraldine Jonçich Clifford and James W. Guthrie, Ed School: A Brief for Professional Education (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988);Google Scholar
  6. John I. Goodlad, Roger Soder, and Kenneth Sirotnik, eds., Places Where Teachers Are Taught (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1990)Google Scholar
  7. 2.
    David Riesman, Constraint and Variety in American Education (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, [1956] 1958), chapter 1Google Scholar
  8. 14.
    Egbert R. Isbell, A History of Eastern Michigan University, 1849–1965 (Ypsilanti, MI: Eastern Michigan University Press, 1971), 357;Google Scholar
  9. Ronald A. Smith, “Athletics in the Wisconsin State University System: 1867–1913,” Wisconsin Magazine of History 55 (Autumn 1971): 17–18;Google Scholar
  10. Samual R. Mohler, The First Seventy-Five Years: A History of Central Washington State College, 1891–1966 (Ellensburg, WA: Central Washington State College, 1967), 98;Google Scholar
  11. Jerry G. Nye, Southwestern Oklahoma State University: The First 100 Years (Weatherford, OK: Southwestern Oklahoma State University, 2001), 55Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Christine A. Ogren 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine A. Ogren

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations