Dean of Continuing Education will retire and become senior research fellow at Center for American History

Dec. 15, 2005

AUSTIN, Texas—Thomas M. Hatfield, dean of the Division of Continuing Education at The University of Texas at Austin, will retire at the end of August 2006 to assume a new role as senior research fellow and head of Studies in American Military History at the Center for American History, Sheldon Ekland-Olson, executive vice president and provost of the university, has announced.

Hatfield was appointed dean of continuing education in 1977. He helped found the university’s Normandy Scholar Program and is widely known as a scholar in the field of World War II history.

“The University of Texas has been a central part of my life for six decades,” said Hatfield. “In the 1950s, I was an undergraduate. In the 1960s, a graduate student and since 1977, dean of continuing education, a position that has enabled me to pursue two great passions: public service in the form of university extension and continuing education, and military history through teaching, writing and lecturing on World War II. Largely because of this university, I have been positioned all of my adult life to help other people develop their abilities and fulfill their aspirations. I have led an immensely satisfying and exciting life.”

Under Hatfield’s 28-year tenure, the Division of Continuing Education has grown to include more than 900 programs for people whose needs surpass the scope of customary campus offerings. The division employs more than 200 staff in six diverse administrative units: the Professional Development Center, the Distance Education Center, University Extension, the Petroleum Extension Service (PETEX), the University Charter School and the Joe C. Thompson Conference Center.

“Tom’s program is not a one-size-fits-all program, but one that has subtle variations to serve various aspects of the population,” said Elspeth Rostow, the Stiles Professor Emerita in American Studies. “He works to tailor the best of the university to meet the needs of those who don’t have access to it through the usual means.”

Among the division’s most widely known programs developed under Hatfield’s guidance are the Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement program, the UT High School Diploma program, the UT Center for Performance Excellence, the ASKME online course curricula for high school students, the UT Third Age University learning in retirement program, the open-enrollment distance and evening college credit program and the UT Odyssey personal enrichment program.

Several of the division’s most successful programs that have emerged during the Hatfield era are not widely known because they serve highly targeted populations through specialized courses and services. For example, the University Charter School (not affiliated with the UT Elementary School), provides individualized learning services for special-needs students, such as teenage mothers in residential facilities, adjudicated teenagers, abused or neglected children, young people with special medical needs and even teenage professional athletes or performing artists with intense training programs.

“Dean Hatfield leaves a permanent legacy of outreach and service to this university and to all the people of Texas,” said Ekland-Olson. “He has remained true to Continuing Education’s unprecedented outreach mission while supporting the university’s strategic themes of a broadened sense of ownership by the people of Texas, improved public education and support for the Texas economy. The university will be proud to carry on this legacy for years to come through continuing education programs and courses that are available to everyone.”

Beginning Sept. 1, 2006, Hatfield will spearhead Studies in American Military History, a new educational outreach and archival component of the Center for American History. Studies in American Military History will archive materials related to the Second World War and other key U.S. military engagements; foster graduate student internships and research; sponsor public lectures, exhibits and symposia; and conduct study programs in Europe and Pacific Ocean areas.

“I can think of no one better suited to lead this initiative than Tom Hatfield,” said Don Carleton, director of the Center for American History. “This is where his life’s work in public education outreach and his expertise in WWII history will merge for the benefit of generations to come.”

Prior to his appointment as dean, Hatfield was the founding president of a community college near Richmond, Va., (1966-69), and the founding president of Austin Community College in Texas (1973-77). His scholarship includes writing a biography of James Earl Rudder, war hero and president of Texas A&M University (1958-1970). He and his wife of 46 years, Carol Sutherland Hatfield, have two daughters and six grandchildren.

A retirement celebration for Hatfield will be held in 2006. For more information, contact ramonakelly@mail.utexas.edu.

For more information contact: Ramona Kelly, communications coordinator, Division of Continuing Education, 512-471-2772.