Oregon Department of Education
Working Gears

This site provides photos and abbreviated biographies of past Oregon Superintendents as far back as 1872.

Susan Castillo

Tenure: Jan. 6, 2003 to June 30, 2012

Susan Castillo was born in Los Angeles on August 14, 1951. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Oregon State University. Prior to entering public office, she enjoyed a long career as an award-winning television journalist. The first Hispanic woman in the Oregon Legislative Assembly, Castillo served in the Oregon State Senate from 1997 to 2002. She was Vice-Chair of the Senate Education Committee and Assistant Democratic Leader for the 1999 and 2001 legislative sessions. She also served on the Health and Human Services Committees, Governor's Advisory Committee on DUII, Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs, Advisory Committee on Agricultural Labor, and the Transportation Committee. During her legislative career, Castillo was recognized by the Oregon Library Association, the Oregon Nurses Association, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Centro LatinoAmericano, the Oregon Youth Authority, and Soroptomist International of the Americas.

Stan Bunn

Tenure: Jan. 4, 1999 to Jan. 5, 2003

Stan Bunn is a fifth-generation Oregonian from a pioneer family who graduated from Dayton HS. He received an economics degree from Willamette University in 1969 and graduated cum laude from Willamette University College of Law in 1973. In addition to establishing a law practice, he won election to the Oregon House in 1972 and served 6 terms until 1992. He was then appointed to the Oregon Senate where he served 1 term. He was elected Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1998.

Norma Paulus

Tenure: Oct. 1, 1990 - Jan. 3, 1999

Norma Paulus attended Burns Union HS. She graduated from Willamette Law School in 1962. She served as a State Representative from 1971-76 and as Secretary of State from 1977-1985. Her occupational background included work as an appellate lawyer and legal secretary. She also served on the Northwest Power Planning Council from 1987-89.

John Erickson

Tenure: Dec. 18, 1989 - Sept. 30, 1990

John Erickson was born and raised in Oregon and graduated from Beaverton HS. He received a Ph.D. from Oregon State University and a M.Ed. And B.A. from Willamette University. He earned his Superintendent's Credential from the University of Oregon. Prior to being Superintendent of Public Instruction, John's career was in education as a teacher, coach, and school administrator.

Verne Duncan

Tenure: Jan. 6, 1975 - Nov. 15, 1989

Verne Duncan was born in McMinnville, Oregon, and graduated from McMinnville HS. Verne has several degrees, including a M.Ed. In Education Administration, a Ph.D. in Public School Administration and an MBA in Labor Management. A retired Colonel in the U.S. Army, Verne served in the Idaho House of Representatives from 1962-65. Duncan was superintendent of Clackamas ESD from 1970-75 and has been involved in all levels of education from elementary to college. In 1997, Verne was appointed to the Oregon Senate by Governor Kitzhaber and was elected to a 4-year term in 1998. In addition to his duties as state senator, Verne has served as a professor and dean at the University of Portland.

Jesse Fasold

Tenure: April 1, 1974 - January 6, 1975

Jesse Fasold was appointed by Governor McCall to succeed Dale Parnell as State Superintendent of Public Instruction in April 1974. Jesse's many years of administrative experience included serving both as Deputy and Interim Superintendents for ODE. Jesse was a Marine Corps veteran with overseas service in WWII as an enlisted man who rose to rank of major. He received a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in Colorado, as well as a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Oregon.

Dale Parnell

Tenure: July 1, 1968 - April 1, 1974

Dale Parnell is a native of Monmouth, Oregon. He worked his way through Willamette University as an apprentice electrician. He earned both master's and doctorate degrees at the University of Oregon. Dale taught at secondary school levels in private and public schools. Dale served as principal of Springfield HS, as well as superintendent of Lane county schools. He was president of Lane Community College.

Jesse Fasold

Tenure: April 1, 1968 - July 1, 1968

See above biographical information.

Leon P. Minear

Tenure: Feb. 1, 1961 - Mar. 31, 1968

Leon Minear was chosen for Superintendent of Public Instruction by Governor Hatfield and the Oregon State Board of Education. His experience included teaching at the elementary, junior high, high school and college levels. Dr. Minear was principal of Benson Polytechnic HS in Portland and president of Stockton Junior College in California. He taught at the college level for the University of Denver, the University of California, and Portland State College. He also worked as superintendent of training for Pan American World Airways.

Rex Putnam

Tenure: Sept. 1, 1937 - Jan. 31, 1961

Rex Putnam was born in Buffalo Gap, South Dakota on June 7, 1890. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1915 from the University of Oregon, and his master’s degree in 1929. He received his doctorate from Lewis and Clark College in 1945. Dr. Putnam began his teaching career Springfield. Except for five years teaching high school science in Tacoma, Washington, Dr. Putnam worked in Oregon. He was superintendent of schools in Redmond, and held a similar position in Albany before becoming the State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1937.

Charles Howard

Tenure: Jan. 3, 1927 - Sept. 1, 1937

Charles Howard was born in Greenwood County, Kansas. He attended Baker University and received a MA from the University of Oregon in 1923. He had been involved with Oregon public schools since 1907, including working in the Marshfield schools. During Charles's tenure as Superintendent, Mr. Howard utilized working conferences of professionals to assist in setting educational policy.

Richard R. Turner

Tenure: June 1, 1926 - Jan. 3, 1927

Richard Turner was born in Stanton, Virginia. He attended Washington and Lee University in Virginia. He was school superintendent in Grants Pass and receiver for the U.S. Land Office in Roseburg prior to serving as State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Julius A. Churchill

Tenure: July 1, 1913 - June 1,1926

Julius Churchill was born in Lima, Ohio. He attended Northern University and the University of Oregon. He served as superintendent in Baker schools from 1891-1913 prior to becoming Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Lewis R. Alderman

Tenure: Jan. 4, 1911 - June 28, 1913

Lewis Alderman worked in the Yamhill county schools, as well as becoming school superintendent in Eugene, an associate professor at the University of Oregon, and superintendent for the city of Portland. During WWI, he was staff member of the overseas Army Educational Crops and Director of Education for Enlisted Men for the U.S. Navy. He originated and established a system of education for enlisted men used on ships and shore. After the war, his career included serving as a specialist in adult education for the U.S. Office of Education. In the depression years, he was loaned to the Emergency Relief program as director of education for adults.

John H. Ackerman

Tenure: Jan. 9, 1899 - Jan. 3, 1911

John Ackerman was born in Warren, Trumbull County, Ohio, and grew up in Toronto, Iowa where he received a public education. In 1873 he moved to Arcadia, Wisconsin, where he received certification to teach. He taught later in Minnesota and Iowa, and served as a principal in Arcadia for 6 years. Ackerman graduated from the State Normal School in Milwaukie, Wis., and in that year moved to Oregon, locating first in Portland. He worked as a principal at Holladay school, and later was elected to serve as city superintendent for East Portland. In 1899, Ackerman was elected to the State Superintendent position.

George Irwin

Tenure: Jan. 14, 1895 - Jan. 9, 1899

George Irwin was born in Dayton, Oregon, and attended Wesleyan University. He worked with the Methodist church district in Union and La Grande, Oregon. He was appointed superintendent of Chemawa Indian training school. After he held this position for several years, he was appointed Superintendent of Public Instruction. He was also appointed U.S. Commissioner of Instruction at Douglas, Alaska.

Ebenezer B. McElroy

Tenure: Sept. 11, 1882 - Jan. 14, 1895

Ebenezer McElroy was born in Pennsylvania and was educated in the public and state normal schools of that state. He served in the Union army from 1861-65 and taught in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. After coming to Oregon, he taught in Corvallis from 1873-75. He was a member of the Corvallis College (Oregon State College) faculty and served as Benton county school superintendent from 1878-82.

Leonard J. Powell

Tenure: Sept. 10, 1878 - Sept. 10, 1882

Leonard Powell was born in Kentucky. He came to Oregon with his parents in 1847. He followed the gold rush to California at 15 and also served in the Indian war. He graduated from Wesleyan University in Ohio in 1861. He taught math at Willamette University, 1862-76, as well as becoming principal of Tualatin Academy. While at Albany Collegiate Institute, 1878-79, he was appointed State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Levi L. Rowland

Tenure: Sept. 14, 1874 - Sept. 9, 1878

Levi Rowland was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and came to Yamhill county in 1844. He graduated from Bethany College in 1856. He became principal at Bethel Institute from 1859-61. In 1860 he was made Polk county superintendent of schools where he organized the first teacher's institute in the state. He took a medical degree from Willamette University and served as professor in the medical department from 1870-78. Meanwhile he was elected as Oregon's Superintendent of Public Instruction, 1874-78.

Sylvester C. Simpson

Tenure: Feb. 1872 - Sept. 1874

The first Superintendent of Public Instruction was born in Missouri. Brought to Oregon by his parents in 1846, he graduated from Willamette University where he studied law. Besides being ODE's first State Superintendent, he became private secretary to Governor Stephen Chadwick, 1877-78. He practiced law in Salem and Portland before moving to California where he continued his law practice.