A Lasting Tribute: Gift Creates Two UM Academic Chairs

This summer, academic chairs honoring two exceptional regional educators were established at the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences. The Maryfrances Shreeve Chair in Teaching Excellence and the William C. Shreeve Chair in Educational Administration honor two exceptional regional educators.

These privately funded faculty positions are among the University’s highest honors, and are the college’s first named chairs. 

Maryfrances Shreeve and her son, William Shreeve.Dean Roberta Evans calls the support transformative, noting that those who educate teachers and principals decisively impact generations of children, adolescents and education professionals.

The chairs will provide leadership in the Department of Teaching and Learning and the Department of Educational Leadership, expanding UM’s impact as an international leader in educational theory, research and practice.

The chairs are named in honor of Maryfrances Shreeve ’57, M.Ed. ’63, a much-loved master teacher who served the children and the state of Montana for 37 years, and her son, Bill ’54, M.Ed. ’58, a professor of education at Eastern Washington University.

The daughter of Montana pioneers, Maryfrances grew up on a ranch near Gold Creek. She started working as a teacher in Snowshoe, near Avon, and spent her career with students throughout Western Montana before retiring in 1972. Hundreds of pupils became strong, capable and confident individuals under her caring tutelage.
Her only break from the profession came during the 1930s, when employment was minimally available for women whose husbands were already employed. She continued to teach even while earning both bachelor’s and master’s degrees at UM in the 1950s and early ’60s.

William C. Shreeve followed in his mother’s footsteps to become an exceptional educator. He received both his B.A. and M.Ed. from UM, where he met his wife, Joanne. He started his professional life in Johnston, Colorado. There he was a respected and successful high school teacher, coach and principal who coached the high school basketball team to win the Colorado state championship in 1958.

After earning an Ed.D. at the University of Northern Colorado, he joined Eastern Washington University in 1967 as a professor of education. He was dedicated to training quality principals and school administration professionals for K-12 school systems, instituting many award-winning programs during his tenure. Recognized for his leadership and vision, he served as the chair of the Department of Education from 1972 until his retirement in 1996.

The inaugural chair holders will be named later this academic year.