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UWO loses Caudle, part of institution since World War II

Jean Caudle, Ph.D., one of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s biggest supporters and longest-connected academic community members, died last week. She was 98.

Jean Caudle, Ph.D., one of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s biggest supporters and longest-connected academic community members, died last week. She was 98.

Her UW Oshkosh colleagues and friends praised her lifetime of service to the institution and the generations of teachers she inspired.

“Jean Caudle was a special person to me, the college and the Oshkosh community,” UW Oshkosh College of Education and Human Services Dean Fred Yeo said. “She was the first alum and donor that I met with when I came to UW Oshkosh, and I found her, at 90, to be delightful and very willing to be supportive of the University, college and teacher education. She helped found the College of Education and Human Services first alumni association and served on its Board for  number of years. She usually came every year to our homecoming tent and always brought interest and engagement, as well as a hearty appetite for the cookies. She will be truly missed by us.”

The UW Oshkosh COEHS webpage that promotes the “Jean I. Caudle Graduate Reading Scholarship” is a kind of monument to a lifetime devoted to UW Oshkosh.

Caudle was born in Oshkosh, “attended Oshkosh High School and then pursued a degree in education, completing her studies at UW Oshkosh (then Oshkosh State Teachers College) in 1934,” the tribute states. “She went on to earn a master’s degree at UW Madison and a doctorate at Boston University in 1955. She returned to UW Oshkosh and taught in her alma mater’s College of Education and Human Services from 1946-1984… As scholar, teacher, adviser, benefactor and volunteer, Jean Caudle has made a tremendous impact on the University, the community of Oshkosh, the state and the nation by sharing her energy, vitality and dynamic spirit.”

Leading such a long, vibrant life, Caudle not surprisingly influenced dozens of colleagues on campus, in her professional circles and in the community.

“Jean was a wonderful and caring individual,” said Janice Stark, advancement officer for the College of Education and Human Services. “She will be missed by many. It was truly a pleasure to get to know Jean and work with her over the years. She was one of the most amazing ladies I have ever met.

Such a fixture of the institution for so many years, Caudle even called campus her literal home for period of time.

After marrying UW Oshkosh faculty member Frederick Caudle, Ph.D., in 1955, Jean Caudle lived in what today serves as the Multicultural Education Center. “Over the course of their tenure, the Caudles hosted many university events, including meetings for the Greek societies, and also allowed the music department to use the second floor of the house,” according to “The House Tour,” an interactive history of homes that stood, or still stand, on the UW Oshkosh campus.

Caudle was the founder of the Rose Legacy Society, an organization named after Rose C. Swart, the groundbreaking teaching-education professor who served as a member of the Oshkosh Normal School faculty for 51 years and is remembered in campus’ Swart Hall.

“I first worked with Jean Caudle when I had her as a professor for two classes in my own master’s work at UW Oshkosh,” said Michael Ford, Ph.D., a UW Oshkosh reading education professor. “She was a gracious person who supported educators like me in this area and beyond for many years.”

After retiring from teaching, Caudle served on the UW Oshkosh Alumni Board of Directors, retiring from those duties in 2008. She is one of three honorary members of the Foundation Board of Directors.

She received the Edward M. Penson Distinguished Teaching Award in 1982. She received the UW Oshkosh Chancellor’s Medallion as an emeritus faculty member in 1987.

Her memory will live on for generations in the Jean I. Caudle Graduate Reading Scholarship, housed at the Foundation and supporting full or part-time graduate students pursuing a master’s degree in reading in COEHS at UW Oshkosh.

“She was a model of lifelong learning and active community participation for her whole life,” Ford said.

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