Bert Sharp, former COE dean, dies at 81

Former COE dean Bert Sharp, who led UF's College of Education through the turbulent and transformative 1970s, died Aug. 31 in Naples. He was 81.

Sharp was a professor in the Counselor Education department in 1968, when he was catapulted into the dean's position by the tragic death of then-dean Kimball Wiles, who was killed in a car accident.

Date

September 9, 2008

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Former COE dean Bert Sharp, who led UF’s College of Education
through the turbulent and transformative 1970s, died Aug. 31 in Naples. He was
81.

Sharp was a professor in the Counselor Education department
in 1968, when he was catapulted into the dean’s position by the tragic death of
then-dean Kimball Wiles, who was killed in a car accident.

Sharp’s position, in those early days, was   a
challenging one. As he took the helm, Florida was experiencing a severe teacher
shortage, placing pressure on UF to produce more graduates. Teachers across the
state, fed up with education cuts, staged a walkout—making it impossible for
the college to place interns in most schools. On top of those challenges, Sharp
inherited from his predecessor an ambitious plan to change the COE into a
research institution worthy of nationwide respect.

He met all these challenges and more. During Sharp’s tenure,
national ranking systems were showing UF in the top tier of education colleges.

The college experienced a boom in minority enrollment, and hired its first
African-American professors. And the college built the Norman Hall Annex—the
set of buildings now know as “New Norman”—doubling the size of the college’s
physical space.   By the time Sharp stepped down to return to teaching in
1978, the College of Education was transformed forever.

“The college flourished under him, in what were really tough
times,” said Professor Emeritus Joe Wittmer, who chaired the Counselor
Education department during Sharp’s term as dean. “Teaching is a cyclical
profession, and there were certainly some ‘down’ years in the 1970s, but Bert
kept things going very well.”

An expert in assessment and measurement in psychology, Sharp
taught counselor education courses for a number of years after his term as
dean. Before his career at UF, Sharp worked in K-12 schools in Mississippi and
Alabama, and was a professor at Auburn University. Among other professional
associations, he was president of the National Association of Colleges of
Teacher Education.

You can read Sharp’s Gainesville Sun obituary,
and sign the guestbook, at http://www.legacy.com/Gainesville/Obituaries.asp?Page=LifeStory&PersonID=116921423.