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Ralph R. Fields, Professor Emeritus of Higher Education, Dies at 93


Ralph R. Fields, Professor Emeritus of Higher Education, Dies at 93

Professor Fields headed the Teachers for East Africa Program for several years.

Ralph R. Fields, one of the early pioneers in the community college movement and the head of the Teachers for East Africa Program (TEA), died on November 15, 2000, at his home in Sun City Center, Florida.

Fields came to Teachers College in 1948 from the California State Department of Education, where he was Associate Superintendent and Chief of the Division of Instruction. He received his B.A. from the University of Arizona in 1929 and Ed.D. in Secondary Education from Stanford University in 1940.

Beginning in 1941, Fields served as the Curriculum Director of the San Jose, California, School System and was also Superintendent of Schools there. He also held positions in the public schools in Phoenix, Arizona, and at Stanford University, where he was Assistant Professor in the teacher-training program for five years. In 1948, Fields was a member of a survey staff that was charged with studying Puerto Rico's schools.

After two years as the Executive Officer of the Division of Instruction at Teachers College, in 1950 Fields was appointed Director of the division until 1959. In an interview with his son, Dr. Rodney Fields, who received his Ed.D. in Higher Education from TC in 1971 and is now the Provost of the Baltimore International College, colleagues felt that Professor Fields' service as the chief administrator in the Division of Instruction was a major accomplishment of his career.

In 1960 Professor Fields, who was by then the Associate Dean at Teachers College, received the Distinguished Service Award of the New York State Association of Junior Colleges. The Distinguished Service Award was presented each year to a person who made outstanding contributions to the growth of the two-year college movement in New York State. In presenting the award, Paul F. Doyle, President of the Association, lauded Fields as an outstanding teacher, writer and administrator and noted that it was the professor's work in curriculum and teacher training that served to strengthen the cause of the community college movement.

Fields was the author of The Community College Movement (McGraw-Hill,1962) and numerous articles and chapters on community colleges here and abroad. In an article, "Designing Effective Courses in Community Colleges," Fields addressed the purpose of the course of study at community colleges. "In planning courses in community colleges," he wrote, "we must constantly remind ourselves that this is a multi-purpose institution. There is the preparation of many individuals for appropriate vocational careers. There is also the general purpose of helping individuals to develop personally in relationship to their lives as citizens."

From 1961-63, Fields headed the Teachers for East Africa Program, which recruited and trained American teachers for service in African schools and worked with East African officials in teacher preparation programs. In seven years, the program supplied and supervised secondary school teachers in Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya. Professor Fields wrote, "In two of these countries specific plans were matured for launching new programs for the preparation of less-than-university graduates for teaching in the lower years of secondary schools (roughly grades seven through ten) in order to increase the number of African secondary teachers." He also worked with the Makerere Institute of Education in Kampala, Uganda, on proposals for a Bachelor of Education degree program as an added program to the one year, post-bachelor's Diploma in Education. This was eventually implemented in 1963-64.

Fields went on to head the United States Agency for International Development's (AID) sponsored project in teacher training in Peru from 1966-68 and Afghanistan from 1971-74.

Professor Fields was a member of the American Association of School Administrators, the American Educational Research Association, and Chairman on Curriculum and Adult Education of the American Association of Junior Colleges (1953-53), among others.

Professor Fields is survived by his son Rodney and daughter Dr. Kay L. Fields, who is a Senior Scientist at the Office of Research Integrity at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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