Founding dean of USF college of education

Published July 14, 2007

TAMPA - The University of South Florida was in its infancy when Jean Allen Battle arrived in 1959 as the education college's founding dean.

The college had just five faculty members. There were few programs and no actual classroom building.

By the time Battle stepped down 12 years later to return to teaching, USF's education college was setting research grant records and turning out a majority of the Hillsborough School District's future teachers.

"He spawned it from the ground up," said retired education professor Lou Bowers, 71, whom Battle hired in 1967. "He was a visionary."

Battle died this month at age 93. But the college he began shaping nearly five decades ago still reflects his ambition and innovative spirit.

Battle's tenure saw the development of 39 undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as teaching programs in Guatemala and Honduras. He required teaching students to frequently visit area classrooms, and he emphasized a strong liberal arts education.

Today the college of education is the seventh-largest in the country, with more than 5,500 students. It remains one of USF's largest generators of research grants, bringing in nearly $30-million a year.

A native of Talladega, Ala., Battle and his wife, Lucy, moved to Florida in 1940, when he joined the faculty at Florida Southern College. In 1959 he moved to USF, a fledgling institution lawmakers had created only a few years earlier.

Battle was "kind of stern as a leader, yet one who cared very much," Bowers said. Under Battle's watch, the education college faculty grew to more than 200. The college went from graduating 188 students in 1963 to 1,165 in 1971.

Battle stepped down as dean in 1971 but taught until his retirement in 1989. His wife died a few months ago, Bowers said.

He is survived by daughter Carol B. Salmon, grandson Gregory C. Salmon and his wife, Suzanna, and newborn great grandson Clipper Gregory Salmon, all of Tampa.

Memorial donations can be made to Lifepath Hospice, 12793 Telecom Parkway, Suite 100, Temple Terrace, FL 33637. Or donations can be made to the Judeo Christian Health Clinic, 4120 1/2 MacDill Ave., Tampa, FL 33607.