UAB’s first dean of the School of Education dies

Fain Guthrie, Ph.D., the first dean for the UAB School of Education, passes away.
Fain Guthrie. Download image.

Fain Guthrie, Ph.D., was the kind of man you don’t meet often in life, said former student Joan Dawson.

“He was brilliant, a master teacher and a funny storyteller. He had it all,” said Dawson who co-directs the Alabama Hands-On Activity Science Program for the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Guthrie was the first dean of the UAB School of Education. On July 7, 2011, he passed away at age 82.

The Georgia native came to UAB in 1968 as the director of the then-new division of education. By 1971, he grew the faculty and student body to the point of achieving the status of a full-fledged School of Education. He spent years training hundreds of teachers and serving as an advocate for education on state and national levels.

“He made teaching an art form,” Dawson said. “It was inspiring to all of us. He made us think and want to learn more.”

She remembers taking Guthrie’s educational psychology course and sitting on the edge of her seat while he recapped the latest developments of the Watergate hearings.

“His body language, the way he talked, cut his eyes… he had us spellbound.”

Millie Cowles, Ph.D., who was the School of Education’s second dean, remembers Guthrie as a “builder” who used his tools of patience, diplomacy and educational expertise to create a school that was a first-class operation.

“The school would not have become what it is today without the firm foundation that he and the faculty built,” Cowles said. 

Guthrie served UAB until he retired in 1983. He is survived by his four children and nine grandchildren. A private memorial service for family and friends will be held July 8. Details of a memorial fund in his honor will be announced at a later date.