History of the Neag School of Education

In 1940, the Connecticut Agricultural College became the University of Connecticut. That same year, a number of “schools” were established on campus, including the School of Education. Prior to that time, teacher training was considered a division. In 1999, the School of Education was renamed after Ray Neag, to honor him for his $21 million gift to the school.

The home of the Neag School of Education is the Charles B. Gentry Building. The original structure, built in 1960, stands as a tribute to the leadership of devoted educator and administrator Charles B. Gentry, who served as director of the Division of Teacher Training until 1940 and, from 1921 to 1940, held the position of dean and twice served as the University’s acting president.

More than 40 years after its construction, the cramped, out-of-date building received a $10 million addition and facelift. Dedicated in the fall of 2004, the home of the Neag School of Education became the first wireless building on the Storrs campus. The 20,000-square-foot wing added to the building’s west side was funded by the state’s UConn 2000 and 21st Century UConn budgets, as well as privately-raised funds.

At that time, the Neag School of Education was bursting at the seams. Faculty, staff and classes were spread among several buildings. The number of people supported by grants had nearly doubled during the previous four years, but there was no space for them to work. The school was also facing a variety of environmental challenges.

The new wing, however, brought new opportunities, including additional offices for faculty, staff and graduate students; flexible space for accommodating both large and small conferences and classes; high-tech conference rooms and classrooms, each equipped with interactive white boards; and an expansive atrium, which has become the heart of the school.

From the outside, the Neag School of Education’s new wing creates a fresh architectural image for the campus, plus follows green building practices. The Gentry Building and nearby Rowe Center for Undergraduate Education (formerly  home of the School of Business) were designed as mirror images of each other when they were built in 1960. The additions to the twin buildings, designed by Svigals + Partners of New Haven, continue that effect. Sculpted panels on the facades of the buildings consist of figures interwoven with words and phrases created by using the 12 letters found in “University of Connecticut.” Sculptor Barry Svigals collaborated with UConn Fine Arts students and faculty members Randall Hoyt and Mark Zurolo to create figures that seem to be walking toward the heart of campus.

The Gentry building addition was the beginning of a two-phase construction project. The second phase—a $10 million major overhaul and expansion of the original building—began in May 2009. Finished in early 2010, the Charles B. Gentry Building is now a comfortable, attractive home for Neag School faculty, staff and students. The renovated space, which is architecturally compatible with the wing, was reconfigured to create additional faculty offices and meeting rooms. Through the expansion and renovation, the Neag School became fully integrated, bringing all the school’s strengths under one roof. With most of the faculty housed in the Gentry Building, collaboration and inter-department work also became easier.

In response to the expanded growth and momentum, the Neag School rose in the rankings, according to U.S. News and World Report, reaching the top 10 percent among all public graduate schools of education. Numerous programs within the Neag School have also achieved national ranking among the top 25, including Special Education, Elementary Teacher Education, Secondary Teacher Education, Education Leadership, and Educational Psychology, among others.

In 2012, President Herbst announced an ambitious plan to hire and recruit faculty who would have a significant impact on research, scholarship, and funding within and across UConn’s schools and colleges. As a result of this hiring initiative, the Neag School of Education is now home to 17 new faculty, consisting of a mix of junior and senior professors recognized across the nation as top scholars in the field of education and workforce development.

Combining the Neag School’s outstanding new faculty hires with the school’s already nationally recognized faculty has led to endless possibilities of what the Neag School will accomplish with respect to meaningful, nationwide education reform.

In conjunction with UConn’s new Academic Vision process in 2014, the Neag School undertook a thoughtful and comprehensive process to develop the school’s new Academic Plan. The Neag School’s newly formulated teaching, research, and outreach mission is well-aligned with the university’s academic vision.

As the Neag School’s faculty, staff and students work together to advance the university’s mission, the Strategic Planning Committee put forth four areas of research strength and opportunity that position the school to play a leadership role at UConn, the state of Connecticut, the nation and the world:

  • Equity and Social Justice
  • STEM Education
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Educator Quality and Effectiveness

Building upon the school’s strong reputation and ambitious plans, the Neag School is poised to move to the next level—a level that will bring national prominence and stature to the Neag School and UConn.


Neag School of Education Past Leaders

1919–1921 Theodore Eaton
Dean of the Division of Teacher-Training
1921–1940  Charles B. Gentry
Namesake of building housing the Neag School.
In 1940, the Division of Teacher-Training became the School of Education.
1940–1948 P. Roy Brammell
1948–1949 William Gruhn (acting)
1949–1960 P. Roy Brammell
1960–1961 C.A. Weber (acting)
1961–1964 F. Robert Paulsen
1964–1965 Glenn C. Atkyns (acting)
1965–1972 William H. Roe
1972–1975 Harry J. Hartley
1975–1987 Mark R. Shibles
1987–1988 David N. Camaione (acting)
1988–1996 Charles W. Case
1996–1997 Judith A. Meagher (acting)
1997–2009 Richard L. Schwab
In 1999, the School of Education became the Neag School of Education.
2009–2014 Thomas C. DeFranco
2014–2016 Richard L. Schwab
2016–2021 Gladis Kersaint
2021- Jason Irizarry (interim)