Hall of Fame Class of 2020
Dr. James Witte joined the Auburn University faculty as an assistant professor in 1999 as the only faculty member in an Adult Education program that served only six graduate students. Under his stewardship, the program has expanded into a nationally recognized and internationally active entity. During this time, the Adult Education program at Auburn has grown to approximately 200 graduate students, four faculty members and a student services coordinator.
Witte earned a Ph.D. in Adult Education in 1997 from the University of South Florida before accepting his position at Auburn University. At Auburn, he established the GED Center, a GED/ESL program staffed with support from the local community college and student interns from his Adult Education program. He established an online master’s program in Adult Education with the Marine Corps College of Distance Education and Training and was the key developer of the Extension Educator Certification (EEC). He also collaborated with colleagues from Auburn’s Aviation, Kinesiology and Psychology departments as a co-investigator on an awarded FA A grant to develop air traffic controller (ATC) training, incorporating gaming theory and virtual reality.
He has cultivated an active exchange of faculty from universities in China, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, teaching at Suez Canal University in Egypt for a semester and visiting Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Mexico to work with colleagues. He jointly developed an academic exchange agreement between representatives from Suez Canal University, Egypt, and Auburn University that has led to a successful exchange of faculty members and students.
Internationally, he has collaborated with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System on three USDA Cochran Fellowship awards with Albania, the Republic of Georgia, the Caribbean area and several East African countries. Extension educators from multiple disciplines have earned advanced degrees under Witte's leadership, allowing for advancement in their career and program achievements. His academic skill, understanding and ability continually inspires participants in his program to exceed their own expectations.
His 20-year participation in the National Joint Apprentice Training Center of the National Training Institute (NJATC/NTI), the center for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the National Electrical Contractors Association instructor training has allowed him to teach thousands of first-year students, emphasizing the principles of learning, including habits of learning, transfer of knowledge, motivation and the nature of the adult learner.
In 2019, he developed and implemented an Adult Education Applied Learning Center in response to inquiries and requests from regional businesses and industry to support industrial research and to plan and develop educational programs to support a skilled workforce.
Witte has served as a committee chair or member for over 400 graduate students, has over 50 publications, over 100 presentations, and refereed 74 conference papers. He has been recognized repeatedly for his excellent teaching and research by the Auburn University College of Education and university as a whole due to his professional contributions and service, both nationally and internationally, within the research, service and outreach areas.
He has received the College of Education’s Outstanding Commitment to Diversity Award, and in 2018 was selected as a Global Teaching Academy Member-International Initiatives through the Office of International Programs at Auburn University and inducted into the Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars.