About TCOE

Mercer University’s Tift College of Education is a place for people and ideas, for learning and change, for study and reflection. A place where what students learn, believe, and become is of primary concern. The core principles of our conceptual framework, the Transforming Educator, are reflected in not only our approach to teaching, but also by how we prepare our students to contribute to society through sharing their knowledge, skills and character.

The College is committed to preparing students to serve as teachers and school leaders in the schools of our state, nation, and world and is committed to the pursuit of excellence in every aspect of educator preparation. We are also committed to supporting the educational needs of all learners across their life span, and to working closely with educators, leaders and policymakers in the field. These are some reasons why TCOE has become the largest private preparer of educators in Georgia.

The College provides a variety of Professional Education Programs that are approved by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission and accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), in addition to programs for those serving in independent and charter schools.

History of TCOE

The history of the Tift College of Education and teacher preparation at Mercer University begins its journey back at the turn of the 20th century with the founding of a School of Pedagogy within the College of Liberal Arts on the Macon campus. The following timeline gives an overview toward the final coming together of three separate units within the University to form what is now the Tift College of Education. Those three units were: The Department of Education within the College of Liberal Arts in Macon; an Education unit from the College of Arts and Sciences in Atlanta; and University College, which received teacher education programs from the merger of Tift College in Forsyth, Georgia with Mercer University.


In Macon, the departments within the College of Liberal Arts increase. Mercer President Gambrell establishes a School of Pedagogy to meet the needs of some 6,000 public school teachers then in Georgia. The first year enrolls 27 students with decreases in enrollment thereafter. After about five year, this certification program is discontinued. Around this time, Gambrell opens the door for women to enroll at Mercer. However, the only woman to earn a certificate in the School of Pedagogy is Pauline Gambrell, his daughter. (Dowell, p. 206)

Mercer President Gambrell


At a meeting of the Georgia Baptist Convention in Waycross, a resolution to admit women to other Departments in addition to the School of Pedagogy was defeated.  (Dowell, p. 214)

In subsequent years, the Mercer University catalogs list the School of Pedagogy under varying names ranging from the School of Pedagogy; the School of Education, separate from the College of Liberal Arts, and finally, in the 1950s, the Department of Education within the College of Liberal Arts.

Catalogue1 Catalogue2


William Heard Kilpatrick is appointed Acting President – 1904-1905. During this time, Kilpatrick changes the course of his interest from mathematics to the field of teacher training and psychology. When he leaves Mercer in 1906, these interests take him to Teachers College at Columbia University where he works with John Dewey and achieves national recognition as a teacher and philosopher.

William Heard Kilpatrick


Mr. David Denton of Stapleton, Georgia gives a large share of his estate with “the whole to be used for the purpose of endowing in connection with Mercer University, a School of Education, intended for the training of teachers and workers in the field of education.” Additionally, the bequest to Mercer is conditional upon Mercer matching his gift. (Dowell, p. 307)


Increased demand for teachers of physical education in the public schools prompts offerings in the subjects of health and physical education for teacher preparation in the summer quarter for both elementary and high school teachers. Porter Gym enlarges to accommodate these classes and three instructors are hired to teach the teacher preparation courses in these areas.

Porter Gym
Porter Gym


The dual system of state certification and county certification discontinues in the state of Georgia and all teachers are required to hold a state teacher’s certificate.

March 15, 1951

Mercer’s Board of Trustees consider naming proposed School of Education the Spright Dowell School of Education. Mr. H. F. Reinhardt of the firm, Ward, Wells, Dreshman, and Reinhardt, meets with the Board of Trustees and offers the availability of his firm to administer the survey and to make recommendations. (Dowell, p. 368)

Spright Dowell
Spright Dowell


Atlanta Baptist College, located on what is now the Cecil B. Day campus in Atlanta, merges with Mercer University. Education programs begin within the newly formed College of Arts and Sciences with one focus being Physical Education.


Tift College, a Georgia Baptist women’s institution in Forsyth, Georgia, merges with Mercer University and brings early childhood and middle grades programs to the College of Liberal Arts’ College of Continuing Education or Evening College.

Tift entrance
Entrance to Tift College


University College, formerly the College of Continuing Education, is established as a unit within the University with educational centers located in Macon, Thomaston, Griffin, Eastman and Douglasville. Joanna Watson is appointed the Dean of University College.


The University’s Board of Trustees votes to discontinue undergraduate liberal arts education on the Atlanta campus by closing the College of Arts and Sciences. The mission of the Cecil B. Day Campus in Atlanta changes to focus on graduate and professional education.


Atlanta’s Education faculty joins the College of Liberal Art’s Department of Education in Macon. Macon programs include both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Atlanta faculty delivers graduate programs.


The Board of Trustees approves plans to establish a School of Education.


During its April meeting, the University’s Board of Trustees votes to transfer University College’s programs to the Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics, the School of Medicine, and the School of Education.


The School of Education is established to include faculty and programs within the College of Liberal Arts’ Department of Education as well as faculty and programs from University College.


First appointed Interim Dean in 1995, Dr. H. Anne Hathaway becomes the founding Dean of the School of Education in 1996.


The former Stetson Library on the Macon campus is rededicated in September as Stetson Hall and converted into office and classroom space for the Stetson School of Business and Economics and the School of Education.

Stetson Building
Stetson Building


Dr. Richard Sietsema becomes Interim Dean of the School of Education. He is appointed Dean of the School of Education in 2000.


The School of Education is renamed the Tift College of Education of Mercer University at the April Board of Trustees meeting.


Tift College of Education faculty and students move into a new facility on the Atlanta campus.


The Holistic Child, an early childhood/general curriculum special education undergraduate program leading to a Bachelor of Science in Education, is offered on the Macon campus. An ESOL endorsement is approved as an option for students in this program.


Dr. Carl R. Martray becomes Dean of the Tift College of Education.


Mercer opens a regional academic center in McDonough, providing opportunities for Tift College of Education students in Henry County and surrounding areas. Tift’s programs in Griffin and Covington merge into the Henry County location.

Henry campus
Henry County Regional Academic Center


Eastman Regional Academic Center faculty and students move into new annex adjoining original structure housing RAC programs since 1986.

Eastman Campus
Eastman Regional Academic Center


The Bachelor of Science in Education - Early Childhood General Curriculum Special Education program begins in the Regional Academic Centers (RAC) - including Douglas, Eastman, Henry, and Macon. Students seek certification-only in the areas of Early Childhood General Curriculum Special Education and Middle Grades Education.


Tift College of Education in Atlanta offers a Master of Arts in Teaching for Early Childhood, Middle Grades, and Secondary. Continuing M.Ed. programs include degree programs in Early Childhood, Middle Grades, Secondary, and Reading.


Tift College of Education’s Educational Leadership program initiates the M.Ed. in Educational Leadership as well as Add-on Certification in Educational Leadership.


Tift College of Education begins the Early Care in Education program for teachers of Birth through 5.


Tift College of Education’s Educational Leadership program offers a Doctor of Philosophy in P-12 School Leadership on the Macon and Atlanta campuses.


The Atlanta campus begins a Specialist degree (Ed.S.) in Teacher Leadership to replace the Early Childhood and Middle Grades Specialist degree programs.


The Tift College of Education adds a Higher Education track to its Ph.D. in Educational Leadership.


Tift College of Education achieves national accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).


Mercer’s Board of Trustees approves a new Ph.D. program in Curriculum and Instruction on the Macon and Atlanta campuses.


The Educational Leadership program offers the Specialist (Ed.S.) degree in Educational Leadership.

Summer, 2009

The first Mercer on Mission initiative for the Tift College of Education begins with a partnership with Rick’s Institute in Liberia, Africa.


Mercer opens the Newnan Regional Academic Center, offering the Bachelor of Science in Education programs in Early Care and Education and in Early Childhood/General Curriculum Special Education.


Educational Leadership offers the M.Ed. in Higher Education degree program.


The Atlanta and Douglas RAC campuses offer the Early Care and Education with Preschool Special Education Endorsement.

Douglas campus
Douglas Regional Academic Center


The M.Ed. in Independent and Charter School Leadership degree program is implemented.


Dr. Paige L. Tompkins becomes Interim Dean of the Tift College of Education.


Tift College of Education’s Mercer on Mission to Haiti is approved.

Summer, 2014

The Macon campus offers a Secondary Master of Arts in Teaching.


Mercer University and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation begin an initiative involving the collaboration among Tift College of Education and other University colleges and schools to develop a program and recruit students interested in a Master of Arts in Teaching in the fields science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The target implementation date for this program is 2016.  

Timeline information researched and provided by: Dr. Margaret Morris

  • Dowell, S. (1958). A history of Mercer University - 1833-1953. Macon, GA: Mercer University.
  • Professional Standards Commission
  • Tift College of Education Faculty Meeting Minutes, 2002-2014.
  • Mercer University Academic Catalogs through 2014-2015
  • The Mercerian