Charles A. Wedemeyer
Hall of Fame Class of 1998
Charles A. Wedemeyer, William H. Lighty Professor of Education (Emeritus) of the University of Wisconsin--Madison and University Extension, is best known throughout the world for his efforts to extend learning opportunities to populations traditionally excluded from formal education–the poor, the geographically isolated, the handicapped, the socially over- burdened, and the very bright for whom traditional schooling had little to offer. His work on learning theory and the sociology of nontraditional learners has drawn the attention of students and scholars from throughout the world.
As a naval officer in World War II, he first began thinking about using communication technologies in adult education to train hundreds of thousands of sailors around the world. Later, as Director of UW’s Correspondence Study Program, he not only brought UW to a preeminent position among correspondence divisions he inspired a movement that broke the mold of adult and higher education and helped fashioned a whole new prototype. Today, many scholars acknowledge that the teaching of distance education started with Dr. Wedemeyer.
As visiting professor, scholar, and consultant, he worked in many countries and was adviser to many organizations: U.S. Department of State, National Institute of Education, UNESCO, Swedish Institute for Developing Areas, Deutsches Institut fur Fernstudien, NASA, USAID, and many other agencies, ministries, and universities. He is the author of more than 150 publications, including his major work, Learning at the Back Door: Reflections on Non- Traditional Learning in the Lifespan.
Dr. Wedemeyer has received many honors and awards. Among these are first American named Kellogg Fellow at Oxford University, honorary doctorates from Oxford University and University of Ethiopia, Fullbright Senior Scholar, Distinguished and Sustained Excellence and Innovation in Higher Education Award from the University of Wisconsin--Green Bay, Wisconsin Fellow from the Madison Human Values Institute, and the Rotary Senior Service Award. In his honor, the University Continuing Education Association instituted a Charles A. Wedemeyer Annual Award for the Distinguished Book in Distance Education.