Alumni Profile: Dr. Earl Farrow

Dr. Earl Vann Farrow's (GSE '71, '76) long career in education has always focused on expanding the progress of programs and initiatives that help low-income, first generation college minority and other underserved populations succeed in higher education. His rich career at Rutgers University spanned 29 years. He served the university community under the able leadership of three presidents, beginning with Dr. Mason Gross. Dr. Farrow’s contributions to both the university and the Graduate School of Education (GSE) still support his vision today.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in 1959 from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in biology and a minor in education, Dr. Farrow spent two years in the U.S. Army before he moved to New Jersey to start his career as a registered medical technologist. It was not long before he drifted toward his passion for education.

Dr. Farrow began his teaching career as an instructor of science at the Job Corps (Edison) and moved to J.P. Stevens High School in Edison, New Jersey. He was then asked to come to Rutgers to work with Dr. Lawrence Hopp and Dr. Melvin Lang from the GSE who created the Rutgers Educational Action Program (REAP). REAP was initially introduced between 1963-1964 as a pilot project and was funded by Johnson & Johnson to provide low-income, first generation, high school students in New Brunswick and Franklin Township schools supplemental education to help prepare them for higher education. The program received positive feedback and subsequent funding from the federal government, via the newly created Upward Bound program. This enabled REAP to expand its reach to 13 cities in New Jersey including Newark, Carteret, Lakewood, and Camden. Dr. Farrow served as a science teacher for the REAP program for two years, during the summer and then became assistant director in mid- 1969.

Following REAP's move from the GSE to the university's extension division, Dr. Farrow took on the role as director of the program from 1969 to 1972 and later joined the ranks of the extension division's community education faculty. He then moved to the faculty at Livingston College where he incorporated REAP into a new department known as Academic Foundations. He served as chairperson of this department from 1972 to 1982 while teaching in the Urban Teacher Education Department at Livingston College. During this time frame, Rutgers President, Dr. Mason Gross invited Dr. Samuel DeWitt Proctor to join the university as an advisor and as professor at the GSE. The arrival of Dr. Proctor marked a significant time in Dr. Farrow's career as he continued his pursuit in helping underserved populations succeed in higher education.

Dr. Farrow acknowledges his relationship with Dr. Proctor was the greatest facet of his career. He refers to Dr. Proctor as a respected mentor, teacher, advisor, friend, and later, colleague when Dr. Farrow became an active faculty member at the GSE. Dr. Proctor’s passion in helping students succeed in higher education was reflected in the work done by Dr. Farrow.

After Dr. Proctor retired, Dr. Farrow spoke with former GSE Dean Louise Wilkinson to discuss an idea to honor the work and contributions made by Dr. Proctor. Initially he suggested a scholarship program, but was advised by Dean Wilkerson that she would pursue a larger project. She then took the initiative to ask the Rutgers University Foundation to create an endowed chair to honor Dr. Proctor. The project, assisted by many others, brought together former students of Dr. Proctor to do fundraising. Their efforts ultimately led to the establishment of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Chair in Education in 2002. The chair was first held by Dr. Dorothy Strickland until her retirement from the GSE and is currently held by Dr. Fred Bonner who was inducted in 2012.

The establishment of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Chair in Education is just one of many contributions Dr. Farrow made during his long career at the university. He was a part of the change at Rutgers toward a diverse community where all students have the opportunity to reach academic success.

"The hallmark of my history at Rutgers and the GSE has been providing opportunity for all students and ensuring academic excellence,” said Dr. Farrow.  

Even after his retirement in 1997, Dr. Farrow continued his work in assisting students participating in the TRIO Quest program at the University of Washington. This program focused on helping low-income, first-generation students learn valuable technological skills. He also created the Farrow Awards, a national scholarship competition designed to encourage TRIO Quest students to apply their technological skills in projects such as creating educational webpages. Trio Quest was a part of an international program known as Think Quest. Residing in Florida, Dr. Farrow continues his pursuits in helping students with his connections to Pensacola State College and the University of West Florida. He is also active in AEEE (Association for Equality and Excellence in Education), which he is a founding member and past president for. AEEE is one of 11 organizations affiliated with the Council for Opportunity in Education, located in Washington. DC.

Dr. Farrow has received many awards and recognition for his work. Most notably, he was the first recipient of the Walter O. Mason, Jr. Award given by the Council for Opportunity in Education (1995), Certificate of Appreciation, U. S. Department of Education (For outstanding service and Support to TRIO Think Quest) 2002, and the GSE Distinguished Leader in Education recognition (2006).

Looking back on his career, Dr. Farrow is most proud of the achievements of his students and has been grateful to see them go on to do great things on a state and national level. Dr. Farrow's contributions to the Rutgers and GSE community have been significant reminders of the progress that has been made in opportunities for underrepresented students and are clear reflections of his passion in striving for educational success.


To learn more about the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Chair in Education click here