John S. Oehler, Ed.D.
John S. Oehler, Ed.D. (School of Education)

John Oehler, pioneering former dean of the VCU School of Education, has died

Oehler led the school during a time of exceptional growth as it rose to the national forefront in education reform.

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John S. Oehler, Ed.D., who led the School of Education at Virginia Commonwealth University as dean from 1985 to 2002 and served VCU for more than 30 years, has died after a long Illness.

“Dr. Oehler leaves a lasting, positive influence on VCU's culture of care for our students, our colleagues and our greater community,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “His generosity, pioneering work and leadership at VCU over 30 years laid the foundation for the university as a major, urban-serving institution.”

Oehler led the School of Education during a time of exceptional growth as it rose to the national forefront in education reform by establishing cutting-edge teacher preparation programs.

“Dr. Oehler provided leadership in many state and national teacher education and accreditation organizations,” said Andrew P. Daire, Ph.D., dean of the School of Education. “His service to the school and to VCU extended far beyond his retirement from the university. He will be sorely missed.”

During Oehler’s tenure, he oversaw the development of a teacher education program in which elementary, middle and high school teachers earned a bachelor’s degree in an academic major and a Master of Teaching degree.

In 1991, while Oehler was dean, the School of Education and Richmond area school districts formed the Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium, which gave impetus to faculty research within the school.

A lectureship and scholarship were created within the School of Education in honor of Oehler and his wife, Mary Sue, who is also a retired educator. The John and Mary Sue Oehler Lecture for Educational Leadership brought internationally renowned speakers to campus to provide their expertise on key issues in education, and the John and Mary Sue Oehler Scholarship for Urban Education is available for graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in the School of Education.

Oehler earned his bachelor’s degree from Davidson College, and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

He led the VCU School of Education’s initial development efforts to secure external funding for scholarships, faculty development and unrestricted gifts. Since retirement, he served as professor emeritus of the school, as well as on the board of an adult day services organization and as a pro bono fundraiser and program development guide at a local YMCA.

Funeral arrangements have not been finalized.