Administrative History

Francis T. Spaulding was born in Ware, Massachusetts on November 23, 1896. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at Harvard University in 1916, then held teaching and administrative positions in public and private schools in New York State and elsewhere. He returned to Harvard to undertake graduate studies in education, earning his Ph.D. in 1926. He then became a member of the faculty of the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, eventually becoming Dean of the school in 1940. From 1930 to 1933, Spaulding directed a national survey of secondary schools funded by the United States Office of Education, and co-authored the study’s report "The Reorganized Secondary School." Also while at Harvard, he first worked for the New York State Education Department from 1936 to 1938, when he directed a study of secondary education for the Regents’ Inquiry into the Character and Cost of Public Education, authoring the report “High School and Life” based on this study. During World War II, Spaulding served as the chief of the Army Education branch of the Information and Education Division of the United States War Department. Serving at the rank of Colonel, he was in charge of planning, organizing, and supervising educational programs through the Armed Forces Institute and its overseas branches. Spaulding was elected President of the University of the State of New York and Commissioner of Education by the New York State Board of Regents on November 15th, 1945, and took office on July 1, 1946.

Much of Spaulding’s time as Commissioner of Education was devoted to dealing with the challenge of providing education for former soldiers returning from service in World War II. During his tenure, construction of facilities at state colleges and universities was greatly expanded, as were off-campus extension programs. In addition, he focused on increasing the number of teachers in the New York State school system, and on increasing the capacity of teachers colleges to increase the level of professionalism among its graduates. Furthermore, Spaulding was instrumental in drafting and enacting regulations for the implementation of the Feinberg Law barring people deemed to be “subversives” from employment in New York State public schools. Spaulding died of a heart attack at his summer home in Center Harbor, N. H. on March 25, 1950.