Dr. Don Glines, former full professor and creator of the nationally famous Wilson Campus School and the renowned Studios for Educational Alternatives experiential teacher preparation programs at MSU, died November 13, 2023, at age of 92. While he was in Mankato, the National Observer labeled Wilson as the most innovative public K-12 school in America, (1968-1977) and the Wilson/MSU teacher education programs as models for the nation. Don was cited as the leading exponent of educational innovation in the country. The Kappan journal labeled him "The Vice-President for Educational Heresy."
His efforts at MSU led to five major changes in the State Education Codes and provided the background for Minnesota to be the first state to adopt legislation creating public charter schools. An article in the Minneapolis Tribune opined that the nation should have thousands of Wilsons. The Minnesota Association for Alternative Programs awarded him in 2004 for his exemplary contributions. Dr. Glines was most proud that Wilson proved traditional mandated one-size-fits-all school programs were not the best learning environments for the majority of learners. Outreach programs were created in Mexico and Canada and with Native American schools. Wilson was also allied with the planning for the Minnesota Experimental City.
The Wilson/MSU education programs were visited by over 1500 each year. Wilson eliminated tests, homework, required courses, report cards, hourly schedules, barrier walls, self-contained classrooms—a total of 69 such changes from traditional to non-traditional. Learning was available everywhere 24/7/365, the result of being the first year-round continuous education program in Minnesota. Wilson/MSU programs were non-graded, K—college, including infant and senior programs. All ages learned together as desired. Everyone was a teacher/mentor; everyone was a student/learner. An article in the Christian Science Monitor recognized Wilson as the "Cradle-toGrave School."
Wilson eliminated such poor programs as remedial reading and waiting lists for enrollment, asking "How do you have a waiting list for learning?" When he arrived at Wilson, he accepted the 150 on the waiting list with no additional budget, staff, or facility. He proved that the re-allocation of resources and adopting non-traditional concepts permitted this increase while still expanding curriculum opportunities. Though very successful, Wilson was closed by political decisions related to the closing of the lower campus and the elimination of all state college laboratory schools.
The documentation of the achievements of Wilson/MSU are archived in the Wilson Campus School Archives and in the Don Glines Archives housed in Memorial Library, MSU. After a three-year campaign, the now exemplary University Archives were established when Dr. Glines, with the help of MSU alumnus Glen Taylor, received notice that his proposal was finally approved. In addition to the Mankato designs, Dr. Glines co-founded the National Association for Year-round Education, gave 1200 keynote addresses throughout the nation, published 16 books and 136 articles--most of which described the Wilson/MSU designs. In addition to Minnesota, he also created similar programs in Oregon, Arizona, Missouri, South Dakota, and California.
Born November 25, 1930 in California, he earned his BS degree at Springfield College, Massachusetts, where he was a four-year letterman in lacrosse. Enlisting in the army during the Korean War, he served in the infantry and later as an officer in the Medical Service Corps. He completed his MS and PhD degrees at the University of Oregon. His six majors allowed him to enjoy teaching English, French, science, history, health, physical education, and coaching basketball, baseball, track, and football—including a year coaching football at Mankato Wilson. The school also created exemplary programs in home economics, industrial arts, and the arts.
Don is survived by his wife Ruth, two children Laurie and Harlan—both of whom attended Wilson, four grandchildren—Katrina, Sam, Dylan, and Hayden, two great-grandchildren, Piper and Wren and a sister Dianne. He has been interred at Glenwood Cemetery in Mankato, with no services. His grave marker references the Wilson and MSU programs, and the MSU Archives.
Most of all, Don wanted the community to remember that for one brief shining moment, Mankato, Wilson, and MSU were the center of the universe for education innovation, and created in Mankato another CAMELOT.