John Ackerman was born in Warren, Ohio, on November 7,
1854. Educated at the State Normal School of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, Ackerman
was a committed proponent of education, particularly rural schools.
After completion of his studies, Ackerman moved to Portland, Oregon, where
he was Principal of the Holiday School and, later, the Harrison School.
In 1896, Ackerman was promoted to Superintendent of Multnomah County Schools
and served until he assumed the office of State Superintendent of Schools in 1899.
As State Superintendent, Ackerman worked hard to increase school standards
in Oregon. Among the changes he implemented were increases in the length
of the rural school year and teacher salaries, improvements to the physical
conditions of schools, and the establishment of a uniform curriculum.
Oregon school standards were considered among the best in the country
because of his efforts
In 1911, Ackerman tackled the task of reopening the Oregon State Normal
School (OSNS) in Monmouth, which closed in 1909 due to lack
of state funding. Ackerman reopened the school and served as President
of the newly renamed Oregon Normal School (ONS). As president, Ackerman
oversaw construction of many new buildings on campus, including the school’s
first dormitory, later named Todd Hall, and the gymnasium, now know as
Maple Hall. In 1920, Ackerman fought for the passage of a millage bill
to establish adequate and stable funding for the ONS. He was also a supporter
of tax measures designed to improve the conditions of rural schools which
saw substantial improvement during his tenure.
Ackerman remained ONS president until he died of a sudden stroke in
1921. Ackerman’s passing was a shock, as he was in good health.
John Ackerman left behind a legacy of family, friends and students who
greatly admired him and his work to improve educational standards and
quality in Oregon.