History of The Martha Dickerson Eriksson College of Education
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History of the Eriksson College of Education

APSU has a rich history as an educational institution. In fact, an educational institution has existed on College Street in Clarksville since 1806, when a private academy was established. The community has supported a college or university on the present campus since 1848. Named after Governor Austin Peay, a Clarksville native who served as Tennessee’s chief executive between 1923 and 1927.

The state chartered Austin Peay as a normal school in 1929. From this date forward, the preparation of quality teachers for Tennessee schools has been a visible priority on the campus. Philander Claxton, in whose honor the present education building is named, served as Austin Peay Normal School’s president from 1930 – 1946. Claxton, who served as U.S. Commissioner of Education under Woodrow Wilson (1911-1921), was an able advocate for quality teacher preparation and quality public schools in the state. Toward the end of Claxton’s tenure as president the institution became Austin Peay State College, a four year institution with a more comprehensive higher education mission. Still, the 1952-53 Bulletin noted that “…the chief purpose of APSC is the education of teachers for the schools of the state.” APSU’s long-term commitment to teacher preparation is evidenced by APSU’s continuous national accreditation by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) since 1952.

University status was conferred on the institution in 1967. Austin Peay’s posture as a regional institution has grown steadily since university status was awarded. In recent years, expansion of professional programs has complemented teacher education and liberal arts strengths in the institutional curriculum.

On April 30, 2013, the College of Education was renamed the Martha Dickerson Eriksson College of Education to honor Mrs. Eriksson, a 1962 graduate of Austin Peay and public school teacher for over thirty years. Upon her death, Mrs. Eriksson's husband, Lars Eriksson, made a large gift to the university to provide scholarships to future math and science teachers attending Austin Peay. 

Through the years, the mission of the College of Education has expanded and the College now offers licensure in twenty different teaching areas at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Graduate programs advance professional skills in teaching, technology, reading, and leadership. In 2009, the College was reorganized to include two departments: the Department of Teaching and Learning and the Department of Educational Specialties. The Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance (TECTA) is housed in the College of Education. The Eriksson College of Education faculty provides rich experiences for their students and valuable expertise for the community.