Hall of Fame Class of 1999
For more than 42 years, Bob Walden has committed his life to education and community concerns. He began his career as a principal at age nineteen, a career spanning 16 years. He went on to become the first full-time adult basic educator in Alabama in 1965; by 1969, he became the Supervisor for Adult Basic Education at the Alabama State Department of Education. In 1977, he was appointed Alabama State Coordinator of Adult Education, a position he held until his retirement.
He used his position as Alabama's state coordinator, to elevate the status of adult education in Alabama and the southeastern region of the United States. His efforts while chairing the Legislative Committee of the National Association for Public Continuing and Adult Education were significant in revising and improving landmark federal adult education legislation beneficial to adults across the country.
Dr. Walden's efforts in continuing education have enhanced the lives of thousands. During his tenure as State Adult Education Coordinator, more than 600,000 adult learners enrolled in adult basic education programs, and of this number more than 24,000 were dropped from welfare rolls, more than 38,000 obtained jobs, more than 88,000 learned to read, and funds for adult education increased more than 275 percent.
Many publications significant in changing the direction in training Adult Basic Education personnel in Alabama have been written or co-written by Dr. Walden. Among these include An Analytical Study to Determine the Effectiveness of Inservice Education on Adult Education Personnel and Handbook for Volunteers in Adult Education.
Bob Walden will be remembered for taking a small, adult education program and shaping it into the Alabama Adult Education program, which was so outstanding that the U.S. Department of Education used it as a model. In 1991, a learning center, named in honor of Bob Walden, opened in his home city of Gadsden, Alabama. It was a fitting tribute to this outstanding leader in adult and continuing education.