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Kenneth Rehage, Professor Emeritus in Education, dies at 96

Feb. 7, 2007

Kenneth Rehage, a Professor Emeritus in Education at the University of Chicago who led a University program to train school administrators and teachers from Pakistan and was also a celebrated teacher himself, died Jan. 31 at the Central New Jersey Jewish Home for the Aged in Somerset, New Jersey.  Rehage, a resident of New Brunswick, New Jersey, was 96.

Rehage received in 1959 the University of Chicago’s highest honor for teaching undergraduates, the Llewellyn John & Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

The citation recognizing his work read, “To the tasks of developing the University’s undergraduate program for the training of elementary-school teachers, he has applied his disciplined, and yet highly creative, mind.  Mr. Rehage has shown, at all times, the highest concern for the education not only of his own students, but also those children whom they will influence and guide in the next generation.”

Rehage used his insights in teaching as the Director of the University of Chicago’s Pakistan Education Program.  The program was established in 1957 with a grant from the Ford Foundation and provided assistance to help local educators develop programs for the improvement of education in the newly independent nation.

The program led to the establishment of 43 pilot secondary schools and the educational centers organized at the University of Dacca and the University of Panjab.  More than 5,000 teachers and administrators were trained in the program, which frequently took Rehage to Pakistan.  The program also brought Pakistanis to the University for study.  Rehage was director of the project from 1963 to 1973.  He was Director of the University of Chicago Peace Corps Training Program for Pakistan in 1963.

Rehage developed an interest in the use of film as a means of instruction and for filming students while they were in class as an aid to study how students learn.

After he retired from the University in 1975, he became secretary of the National Society for the Study of Education, which was based at the University of Chicago.  He was also editor of the society’s yearbook until 1999, when he retired from his position as secretary at the age of 90.

“Operating in a basement office in Judd Hall (home of the Education Department), Ken never compromised his dedication to the NSSE. His stewardship was instrumental in ensuring the scholarly quality of the NSSE Yearbooks,” said Kenneth Wong, a former colleague and now a professor of education at Brown University.

Rehage also served as Interim Director of the University’s Laboratory Schools from 1984 to 1985, during a time when the governance of the schools was reorganized to bring them under a board that included parents and alumni as well as University faculty members.

“He was a firm leader, extremely compassionate and someone  the University could always call upon to do an important job,” said Anne Wheeler, retired Senior Lecturer in Education at the University, who was Principal of Lab’s Lower School when Rehage was interim director.

Rehage joined the faculty of the Laboratory Schools in 1940 after serving as a social studies teacher in Genoa and Elgin, Illinois. At the Laboratory Schools, he worked on imaginative teaching projects, such as establishing a student exchange program between the predominately white Laboratory Schools high school and DuSable High School, a predominately African-American school.  The program, initiated in the 1940s, was praised as a successful effort to improve understanding between the races. 

Rehage continued to teach at the Laboratory Schools until 1949, when he joined the University’s education faculty.  He was later named Dean of Students in the Graduate School of Education and Secretary of the Department of Education.   He also served as Dean of Students in the Social Sciences Division from 1972 to 1982 and was editor of the Elementary School Journal.

A native of Elgin, he received a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin in 1932, an M.A. from the University of Chicago in 1935 and a Ph.D. from the University in 1948.  His teaching fields included curriculum and instruction, elementary and secondary levels of social studies and supervision of instruction.

A long-term resident of Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, he moved to New Brunswick in 2000. 

Rehage is survived by his wife, Laurel Tanner; a daughter, Joan Kleckner, and sons David and Larry; as well as five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. 

A memorial service will be held at the Hyde Park Union Church, 5600 S. Woodlawn Ave., on Saturday May 26 at 4 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in his name may be made to the National Society for the Study of Education, College of Education (M/C147), University of Illinois at Chicago, 1040 W. Harrison St., Chicago, Il 60607-7133.

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Last modified at 11:09 AM CST on Monday, July 23, 2007

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