Charles Allen Prosser is known as the Father of Vocational Education in the United States. He was born in New Albany in 1871 where he received his elementary and high school education. Prosser accepted his B.A. and M.A. degrees from DePauw University in 1897 and 1906, respectively. Along with his L.L.B. degrees from the University of Louisville and his Ph.D. from Columbia University, Prosser also received many honorary degrees from several universities.
Charles Allen Prosser also taught history and physics at the old New Albany High School located at Bank and Spring Streets. He served as Superintendent of the local schools from 1900 to 1908. During this time he streamlined the old instruction system, upgraded teacher qualifications, built the then new high school located at E. 6th and Spring Streets, helped the city obtain the present library, and instituted the community’s first Night School Program.
While superintendent, he met so many boys who were into working with their hands making things and learning a trade, he began to feel that schools should help the trades train workers. Mr. Prosser was granted a leave to work on his Ph.D. and did not return to the superintendency at New Albany.
Dr. Prosser’s succeeding employment includes the superintendent of the Children’s Aid Society in New York City where evening industrial classes were given; Deputy Commissioner of Industrial Education for Massachusetts; Secretary of the National Society for the Promotion of Industrial Education, New York City.
While Secretary of the National Society, he traveled widely forming and enthusing individuals and groups, suggesting programs and standards and helping to share pass legislation to awaken the Nation to the possibilities to the state and federal aid to vocational education.
For 31 years he headed the pioneering Dunwoody Industrial Institute at Minneapolis, where many of today’s vocational training concepts were shaped.
He was instrumental in the writing and passage of the Smith-Hughes Act that created Federal aid to Vocational Education.
As a writer, Dr. Prosser authorized and edited many textbooks on Vocational Education and many of them are still used in the universities today. He often collaborated with distinguished writers for bulletins and magazine articles.
He sparked and encouraged hundreds of men and women in education and industry to pursue courses in Vocational Education. Many of the past and present leaders in Vocational and Industrial Education throughout the United States derived their inspiration for this vital work from their association with Prosser and his dynamic approach and practical philosophy.