Education professor Gerald H. Read dies at 93

Theresa Montgomery

Former education professor Gerald H. Read died Tuesday following a lengthy illness.

An “educational entrepreneur,” Read was the vanguard of international education, said Ken Cushner, executive director of international affairs.

Read was the first American to establish a formal exchange agreement between educators behind the Iron Curtain and those in the United States. He organized “planeloads of educators between the United States and the Soviet Union” at a time when tensions ran high between the two countries, Cushner said.

“He was able to open windows and doors to things people didn’t know they needed to open,” Cushner said.

Here at Kent State, the Gerald H. Read Center for International and Intercultural Education bears his name.

“His legacy for the center is that all educators should have a global perspective, because the students they’re teaching live in an increasingly smaller world,” said Linda Robertson, director of the center. Created in 1987 through an endowment established by Read, the center is one reminder of Read’s impact at home and abroad. The meeting room in White Hall is also named for him.

“He was not only good to education,” Cushner said. “He supported nursing, athletics and programs campus wide.”

Joe Macedo of the Kent State Development Office said that Read and his wife, Vicki, were significant contributors to several social service programs throughout the area.

“Gerald is one of those people that everyone affiliated through the university seems to know,” Macedo said.

All agree his most profound impact on educators is ideological.

“He inspired just a huge number of students to get involved in the world, and to understand it,” education professor Kim Sebaly said.

Read used to hitchhike his way to campus from his native Akron as he worked on his undergraduate degree in history and social studies education at Kent State, Sebaly said. Read completed both his Master’s and doctoral degrees in education at Ohio University. Returning to Kent in 1943, Read became a full-time faculty member of the College of Education in 1948, Sebaly said.

In 1970, Read was the first person awarded the Kent State President’s medal for his service to education, Sebaly said.

Sebaly had worked closely with Read since the 1970s. The pair worked together on a series of international seminars for educators. Sebaly accompanied Read on trips to Tokyo, Paris and Geneva.

Sebaly also emphasized Read’s part in establishing relationships with teachers from the Republic of China and the world community of educators. Read met with the Prime Minister of China at that time.

Private services for Read will be held in Akron this week, and Read will also be commemorated on campus both this weekend and during International Education Week in November.

“(Read) saw that you could be enemies, but if you got to know each other, you could build bridges to friendship,” Sebaly said. “He devoted his life to that.”

Contact College of Graduate Education, Health and Human Services reporter Theresa Montgomery at [email protected].