Frances Horler joined the faculty of Rochester’s undergraduate college as a professor of comparative and international education in 1948, just as the University was about to enter a period of expansion.
She came directly from the University of Chicago, where she’d earned graduate degrees in education and educational psychology. In 1958, when the newly founded graduate College of Education was initiated (known today as the Warner School of Education), she became chair of the educational foundations department, making a large mark on the department in its formative years.
Frances was key in establishing the College of Education’s curriculum and doctoral programs. She was also helpful to me in my role in establishing the school’s program in counseling. I was one of many new faculty members she welcomed and helped along as we adjusted to our new roles.
Frances was also very important in mentoring students. In the 1950s, undergraduate women moved from the downtown Prince Street Campus to the suburban River Campus, joining the undergraduate men who’d lived and studied there since it was dedicated in 1930. She was a valuable mentor and teacher for River Campus women.
Frances established ties between the college and the Rochester City School District, getting to know everyone in the district, and helping to get education students established as student teachers and counselors.
Perhaps no group of students came to appreciate her more than students from other countries. In the 1950s and 1960s, the University was expanding its admission of international students. Frances was a world traveler who spent many summers as a teacher or lecturer in summer institutes abroad and spoke several languages. When I and some other members of the faculty had a problem communicating with an international student, often we would suggest that person talk to Frances. Before long, international students would go directly to her.
In 1978, after three decades at Rochester, Frances “retired” and spent four years teaching English education at an institution of higher education in Kobe, Japan. Last August, she died in her hometown of Kewanee, Ill., at the age of 101.
When Frances was at Rochester, we used to say: “What would we do if Frances weren’t here?” She was a vital person at an important time in the University’s history.
Munson is a professor emeritus of education at the Warner School.