Chairman, or Dean, of the School of Education, 1935-1957
Lorena Stretch, Ph.D., served as dean of the School of Education from 1935 until 1957.
Stretch was a lasting presence in the School of Education, first as a student, later as a professor and eventually as “Chairman,” or dean of the School of Education. She is credited with helping grow the SOE into one of the university’s largest schools.
Stretch joined the Baylor faculty in 1926. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Baylor and her Ph.D. from George Peabody College in Nashville.
A native of Meridian, Texas, Stretch taught many of the significant education courses during her tenure. Serious and sometimes stern, she expected a lot from her students, according to an interview with former student and Professor Emeritus Susan K. Johnsen. Under her leadership, the SOE developed and adapted its curriculum to offer more and more relevant courses along with method education.
Stretch advocated for character education and said the role of the teacher was, along with book learning, to develop students as whole people and further their social and cultural development. She spoke often of the significance and prestige of teacher education, and often said effective school teachers must have college degrees.
Stretch’s work was published in many national educational journals, and she authored several books regarding teaching, curriculum and the education of teachers. As Chairman, or Dean, of the SOE her attitude and achievements shaped the culture of and courses offered at Baylor. She often told students, whether or not they were SOE students, that an education degree from Baylor made graduates more attractive and eligible for higher paying jobs within the educational profession and in other fields.
On a lighter note, Stretch was the perennial winner of the campus donkey races on All-University Day, now Diadeloso. Every year she showed up for the race wearing her finest equestrian attire. She defended her title vigorously for many years.