History & Archives

In the Beginning

The very beginning is difficult to trace, since memories and records are somewhat inadequate. All of the people who became charter members, as well as most who have since become involved, were (and are) ASCD'ers who shared not only a special interest in the of ASCD but also a feeling that the people enjoyed a sense of community and camaraderie that the people ought to have. Although it may never have been said in so many words, the Professors of Curriculum group with its decades-long history of conferencing just prior to the national ASCD convention served as a prototype for the COPIS founders to follow.

Ben Harris, with the initial encouragement of Jerry Firth, Bob Alfonso, John Lovell and others, took the initiative in 1974. Robert Alfonso (in a letter to Bob Anderson dated June 2, 1987) recalls sending a letter to Ben Harris in late 1970 or 1971, suggesting an informal organization of university scholars of supervision, with the Curriculum Professors group as a model, and Ben responded with enthusiasm. The two talked about it later, and then agreed to invite people to such an organizational session.

Ben Harris reports that he responded to the suggestion of a new organization with some reluctance. 'I recall,' he writes, agreeing that there was a need for better communications among those writing and researching in supervisory practices. I expressed doubt, however, that another organization was needed. In fact, I had some concern about the Curriculum Professors group, as a model, since it accomplished little and was often in controversy.

Harris recalls correspondence with Jerry Firth as well as Bob Alfonso. He also recalls agreeing with Alfonso that letters of invitation should be sent to a few writers such as Craig Wilson, Kimball Wiles, Morris Cogan and others.

Notes from a meeting (later referred to as the First Annual COPIS meeting) in the Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans on March 15, 1975, attended by twenty-one professors, confirmed Ben Harris as liaison person for a second year, set negotiations in motions with ASCD to revive the old ASCD Commission on Problems of Supervisors and to put more supervisor presentations on the 1976 Annual Convention (Professors John Greene, John Lovell, Morris Cogan and Robert Krajewski to pursue). It also set plans in motion (Professors Leslee Bishop, Louise Hock and Charles Beegle) for systematic development and publication efforts, and to prepare for a COPIS meeting with wider participation in Miami Beach in March 1976 (Ben Harris, Jesse Roderick, and Bob Anderson).

In July 1975, Ben Harris distributed a memo with proposed 1975-1976 committee assignments. In addition to 1976 conference planning assignments, Barbara Hartsig was given the chairperson role for By-Laws and Organizational Plans (Members Alfonso, Mackenzie, Firth, Cogan, and Neville); John Greene Chairperson for nominations (members Harnack, Turney, and Berman), and Lovell and Bishop as co-chairpersons for Publication Plans (with Lucio, Fiorino, and Hock).

As things turned out some of the people who attended, or were invited to, the first few meetings and/or who were suggested for committee assignments never became involved. Harris's efforts to embrace as many Supervision specialists as possible in the Council (earlier called the Ad Hoc Council) and in the National ASCD Conference (general sessions, assemblies, action labs, special sessions), however, provided energy and direction and helped a true community of dedicated specialists to emerge.

The Second Annual Meeting on March 13, 1976 in Miami Beach was historic in several respects. Harris called the meeting to order, and during the meeting Barbara Hartsig emerged as official chairperson by a random drawing after a paper ballot provided a deadlock between her, Leslee Bishop and John Lovell. She in turn named Margaret Phelps as Secretary and John Greene as Treasurer. A $5.00 dues policy was voted. Committee chairs reported (see above paragraphs), By-laws were adopted after lively and extensive discussion, and a membership committee (Harris, chair; Alfonso, Bishop, Lovell, and Sergiovanni) was charged with developing and implementing a system for review, recommendation, and balloting.

Harris writes that 'One of the lively issues in the By-laws was a limitation of 60 members. Many argued that we wanted a small, family, group. We wanted everyone to fit into a room and talk face-to-face. Others argued that we did not want to be elitists and that qualified persons should be admitted. Finally, a compromise on 100 members was accepted. No one thought it could get that big anyway.

Of interest is that Harris in a March 1, 1976 memo indicated that the "New Orleans Nucleus" was expanding, with 55 members now listed. Prophetically, he noted that some strong supporters of the COPIS idea were being torn between meeting with COPIS or with the Professors of Curriculum (same day scheduling). "A tight conference schedule," he observed, "lmost demands some hard choices."Although some very good people were subsequently lost to COPIS because their curriculum loyalties prevailed, it seems probable that COPIS became a stronger group because its members made the "hard choice" in supervision's favor.

The Third Annual Meeting, in Houston on March 19, 1977, chaired by Hartsig, focused in particular upon efforts to influence ASCD publications (with more focus on supervision), although Committee reports indicated that COPIS was emerging as an active and productive group. Those present voted to accept the list of current members as the charter group of COPIS. Leslee Bishop, who was earlier elected to the chairperson role, assumed the chair at the close of the meeting, and Bishop appointed Peter Oliva as Secretary, Bob Krajewski as Treasurer. During the meeting, outgoing Treasurer John Greene reported a balance of $205.

Again Harris recalls: 'I believe this was the time when discussions were initiated on making COPIS truly national. Barbara Hartsig from California, another Robert Anderson from University of Washington and Lloyd McCleary from Utah were the only Westerners active. I pushed to recruit in the West and to have some future meetings there. However, even the San Francisco meeting failed to stimulate such interest. It should be noted however, that as Western participation has waned, Adachi has represented Hawaii with great faithfulness. Note also Costa and Garmston, California members since 1985.

The Fourth Annual Meeting, in San Francisco on March 4, 1978, was devoted mostly to presentations and discussion concerning Instructional Supervision, with a panel from the University of Georgia (Les Bishop, Reba Burnham, Ray Bruce, and Edith Grimsley) providing leadership. During the luncheon (which by 1978 had become a regular feature of the day-long COPIS session) Bob Alfonso invited COPIS to serve as Co-sponsor (with the College of Education at Kent State University) of an invitational conference on Theory and Research in Supervision, to be held at Kent in December. The decision to accept proved to be another historic moment, since the Kent State meeting became a prototype for the Annual Fall Conference that has become in many ways the essential COPIS activity.

In San Francisco it was voted to retain the three 1977-1978 officers in office for a second term, 1978-1979. In the minutes of March 4 meeting, Oliva's notes refer to Bishop as "President" rather than chairperson, the term previously used, and the transition to a more honorific label appears to have been cheerfully accepted (if, indeed, anyone noticed it!).

The Kent State Conference, held December 7-9, 1978, featured presentations, position papers, and roundtables involving educators nearly all of who were (or soon became) COPIS members. Major presenters were Richard Hawthorne, Ben Harris, Arthur Blumberg, Richard Neville and Tom Sergiovanni. An excellent monograph Instructional Supervision:Research and Theory provided the conference papers. Bob Alfonso, who played the major role in setting up the conference, indicates that no official minutes were kept of whatever business session there may have been. His view, shared by many, is that this, the first full conference of the group, was "the spring-board to really solidifying the organization." Perhaps the organization was already quite solid by this date, but Ben Harris suggests that 'Kent State may have been a watershed meeting in several ways. We initiated a 2nd regular annual gathering and dedicated it to a focus on research in supervision. We also declared independence from ASCD in a sense.

And the Beat Went On

By 1979, with an identity established through at least five gatherings over four-plus years, COPIS had become a recognized and (at least some ways) influential professional organization. This is not to say that its members found comfortable agreement in definitions of supervision or a common platform for the promotion of supervision as a major field of research and/or practice. Nor is it to say that the perennial struggle to accord supervision its 'rightful' place within ASCD or on the national educational/political scene has become less tense or frustrating. It does, however, seem that the members have developed strong loyalty to the organization and to each other as professors with many common values and aspirations, and that the content and the spirit of meetings held in 1979 and the following years helped individuals as well as committees and back-home faculty groups to be more productive in their teaching, their research, and their service to the field.

After Kent State, COPIS functioned on a biannual schedule, which among other things made it easier for members to remain in good standing under the ruled (adopted November 13, 1981) requiring attendance at a COPIS meeting at least once every two years. Having a Fall Conference of reasonable length and with full topical program also expanded the scope of professional interchange. Further, it made possible the occasional participation of doctoral students and faculty colleagues of COPIS members serving as hosts. That (through 1987) ten campuses have offered their facilities and provided hospitality for Fall Conferences has helped members to develop an even stronger sense of community than was possible when only the large cities hosting national ASCD provided a background setting.

It should be noted that the University of Georgia has led in regularly bringing doctoral students to COPIS, even driving long distances to accommodate them. Other members have included such students more commonly as they host the group on a given campus. Doctoral students have enriched many conference programs, notably through participation that emphasizes new research.

On March 3, 1979, in Detroit, part of the discussion centered around the publication, and cost-sharing, of the Kent State papers, since ASCD had declined to publish them. As several times before and since, the ASCD-COPIS relationship was discussed with concern. Alfonso, Harris, Firth and others had lengthy discussions and correspondence with both Calweti and Brandt regarding the need for technical papers in our field. Harris, as a member of the National Board of ASCD, made several appeals to that group, but to no avail. Profitability is still the only criterion except for year books, he observes.

Also in March 3 session, as before and since, the criteria for membership in COPIS were discussed somewhat warmly, the principal complaint of a few being that persons whose relationship to supervision is primarily in the supervision of student teaching are excluded. The policy was upheld, however. Also affirmed was that COPIS cannot provide an honorarium for persons presenting papers at its meetings. The March 3 program featured a paper by Arthur Lewis. John Lovell was elected to the Presidency for 1979-80, with Fred Wood as Secretary and Noreen Garman as Treasurer.

What was billed as the Second Annual COPIS Conference took place on the University of Georgia campus (Athens, Georgia) December 8-9, 1979. Sixty-two persons attended. The conference theme was "Examining Instructional Supervision: Its Roots, Its Branches, Its Fruits." A record of the business sessions (one on December 7, another on December 8) is provided in a memo circulated March 24, 1980 by Fred Wood. Again, limited COPIS impact upon ASCD publications, conferences, and activities was the topic of concern. That the Fall Conference should be continued, and that adequate time should be scheduled for discussion and reactions were strongly affirmed.

In Atlanta on March 30, 1980, the membership considered a report on research on school-based in-service (Ben Harris). Following lunch, Bob Alfonso was elected to the Presidency, Ray Bruce was elected to the role of Secretary and Noreen Garman was (re)elected to Treasurer, and a decision was made that henceforth the Treasurer role will be a two-year responsibility. A publication committee survey was reported, and a motion was passed to establish a committee on research and committee report on ASCD Program Inputs for COPIS, was the idea of having a regular committee to be concerned with ASCD program planning.

By this time many COPIS members were regularly present at ASCD Conferences. NCS Institutes were utilizing COPIS members and supervision topics were being featured. Many expressed the feeling that this should not be further structured by official COPIS action.

In the Fred Wood memo of March 24, 1980, it was reported that the membership committee had approved application from Paul Bell, R. S. Clark, Dorothy Franks, Charles Guditus, Yvonne Martin, Lloyd McCleary, Aubrey Moseley, Everette Sams, Charles Reavis, and Ken Wilburn. There was further discussion about procedures for future admission of members.

The Fall Conference held in Hollywood, Florida December 4-6, 1980 was hosted and planned by Peter Olivia and featured a variety of theme presentations. Presenters included Morris Cogan, John Withall, Ed Pajak, Carl Glickman, Noreen Garman, Lee Goldsberry, Harold Turner, and Ray Bruce. In a December 30, 1980 memorandum President Alfonso described the conference with pride. He also reported that during the business meeting a dues increase to $10 was approved. The University of Pittsburgh's offer to sponsor the 1981 Fall Conference was accepted, and it was agreed that an effort (under Jerry Firth, current membership chairman) should be made to raise the active membership from 60 (which yields about 40-45 persons per meeting) in the direction of 100, the constitutional maximum.

On March 7, 1981 about 35 members attended a half-day session that featured a panel of authors. Elected to membership were Lee Goldsberry, Robert F. Nicely Jr., Robert F. Neuhard, and W. Elzie Danley, Sr. Again, the ASCD/COPIS meeting pattern was examined (but not changed). The Nomination Committee proposed that the Secretary-Treasurer positions be combined into one, and Barbara Pavan was elected to the role. Fred Wood was elected President for 1981-1982. The record of the March 7 meeting was provided in a memo from past-President Alfonso dated March 16.

November 12-13-14, 1981 found the membership in Pittsburgh, where an excellent and jam-packed program dealt with a range of topics. Presenters included Yvonne Martin, Art Shapiro, Ron Soto, Steven Thompson, Barbara Clinton, Ken Zeichner, Charles Guditus and Bradley Seager. In the business meeting on November 13, Richard Hawthorne, Ronald Hyman, Yvonne Martin, Lloyd McCleary, Edward Pajak and Cheryl Granade Sullivan were accepted as members. Concerning membership criteria, it was noted that 'Members should be teaching graduate level courses in the supervision of instruction and/or involved in research or consultation on the processes, roles functions and practices in supervision.' The on-in-four meeting attendance policy was accepted, and it was agreed non-dues-paying members for three years will be automatically dropped from the membership list. Of interest is that the COPIS treasury as of November 30, 1981 exceeded $1,000, thereby giving the organization some flexibility and resources heretofore not enjoyed. Task forces were appointed for Reseach (Noreen Garman, Louise Dieterle, Nancy Vedral), Memberships (Jerry Firth, Barbara Pavan, Ln Valverde) and Publication (Les Bishop). Help with the ASCD Supervision Dissertation Award was charged to Noreen Garman and Len Valverde.

In Anaheim on March 20, 1982 four new members were accepted: Helen Hazi, Charles Franzen, Joseph Murphy, and Donald Reyes. COPIS membership at this point was 62. It was reported that the ACSD dissertation award went to Barbara Clinton of the University of Georgia, a former presenter at a COPIS meeting. It was announced that Les Bishop is chairing a task force to consider the idea of a scholarly journal on supervision. The Treasury balance was reported to be $1005.

The 1982 Fall Conference, fifth in the series, was held in Knoxville, Tennessee November 11-13. The Conference Planning Committee was co-chaired by John Lovell and Margaret Phelps. Program sessions focused upon issues (Edith Grimsley, Moderator), research (Karolyn Snyder, Moderator), clinical supervision (Art Shapiro, Moderator), and staff development (Harold Turner). During the business meeting on November 13, five new members were accepted:' Barbara Burch, Francis Duffy, Heinz Luebkemann, Donald McDermott, and Isobel Pfeiffer. Membership was then up slightly to 64, and the bank balance had grown to $1500. Of interest were payments of $75 and $100 in support of the new Special Interest Group (SIG) on Instructional Supervision, being formed by the American Educational Research Association and promoted by Noreen Garman and Helen Hazi. Also of interest is that President Edith Grimsley was instructed to appoint an Ad Hoc Site Selection Committee, so that Fall/Winter conference locations could be arranged more easily and well advance. It was also decided to continue henceforth using a mailed ballot, as introduced in March 1981 for election of officers. Re program issues, it was felt that longer program segments on a single topic, as contrasted with a number of separate topics, would allow for better dialogue. For several years, Ben Harris notes, Fall programs had been "fully packed" with both members and doctoral students making numerous presentations. After each such meeting, individuals repeatedly asked for more time for discussion and more informal sharing. Still, as late as 1976 at Tampa, the discussion continued on this problem.

A report by Cheryl Sullivan and Karolyn Snyder re the proposed new ASCD scholarly journal led to a recommendation that the proposed title be renegotiated.

Houston, Texas was the site of the next COPIS session, on March 5, 1983. Jane Applegate and Jacqueline Jordan Irvine were accepted as members. The nominating committee proposed a slate which later resulted in the election of Richard Hawthorne (President) and Helen Hazi (Secretary/Treasurer) for 1983-1984. Most of the items on the agenda had to do with ASCD (its new Journal, Perspectives on Practice; the Five Year Plan; dissertation awards; ASCD Effective Supervisors Project; ASCD Commission on Supervision).

The sixth Fall Conference, November 3-5, 1983, took place in DeKalb, Illinois, where Northern Illinois University hosted a multi-topical meeting. The Planning Committee included Louise Dieterle, Dorothy Franks, Tom McGreal, Don Feyes, Tom Sergiovanni, and Nancy Vedral. In the November 5 business meeting Secretary Hazi sought reactions to a proposed letter to be sent to nine members now "delinquent" as per the attendance policy. A motion to support the new AERA SIG on Instructional Supervision for one more year at $100 was approved. Plans for the March 1984 COPIS meeting to be held at Teachers College in New York were reported and accepted. Reference was made to a new ASCD Commission on Supervision, and COPIS representation thereon. The demise of Perspectives on Practice was reported.

The New York meeting March 12, 1984 suffered from some severe schedule conflicts for the COPIS members, but 28 members did attend. There was some confusion relative to the sessions at Teachers College (where there are no faculty members who belong to COPIS). There was considerable discussion, again arising from complaints about the policy, of membership criteria, and it was agreed that a careful one-page statement of the criteria be prepared for future discussion. Joyce Killian was elected to membership. The Treasury balance was later reported to be nearly $2500.

Prior to the Fall Conference held in Austin, Texas in November 1984, Thomas Sergiovanni was elected to the COPIS Presidency. In the early months of his presidency, Sergiovanni circulated several very thoughtful memos about COPIS (its purpose, its structure, etc.), and under his strong leadership preparation went forward for two sessions (the conference in Austin, and the Chicago meeting) in which the members sought to deal with broad and important issues.

Perhaps the most extensive discussion of the COPIS mission occurred in the November 1984 meeting in Austin, when a Task Force on liaison and purpose (chaired by Lee Goldsberry) labeled as the primary purpose of COPIS an "intimate collaboration and sharing of ideas at a conceptual level, and stimulation of our own thinking." The discussion resulted in identification of other missions:(1) to advocate standards for the preparation of supervisors, (2) to develop practical guidelines to influence policy makes and professional groups (such as AASA and NASB), (3) to synthesize research on supervision, and (4) to use all possible means to define the importance of supervision. In Chicago in March 1985 the advocacy dimension was further discussed, and a report favoring the idea of political involvement on critical issues was approved.

Minutes of the November 5, 1984 business meeting include extensive reference to the membership/attendance problem, on which a Task Force's four-part recommendations were approved unanimously: (1) maintain the rule, (2) clarify the notification letter, (3) use an appeals policy, and (4) retain retired members without dues payments. The membership criteria were restated and reaffirmed. Since much of the Conference had been devoted to questions of Mission and Purpose, the record shows that there was discussion of advocacy, policy guidelines development, syntheses of research, and defining the importance of supervision as additional missions of COPIS. There was also discussion of the new ASCD Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, and the need to determine whether it can serve as an adequate outlet and forum for work in the area of supervision. Interest in a more active research role was also examined, and Helen Hazi and Karolyn Snyder volunteered to initiate a survey of current COPIS research interests and possible activities.

Chicago was the setting for the Spring Meeting March 23, 1985, with Tom Sergiovanni presiding. 39 members were present. New members admitted were Art Costa, Robert Garmston, Gillian Cook, Allan Glatthorn, and John Smyth. Minutes, prepared by Don Reyes, reflect fruitful attention to future programs (and Fall Conference) planning, decisions about Missions and Purpose, publications, research activities, and three resolutions on a greater role for supervision soon to be presented to the general membership of ASCD by its National Committee. Among the decisions reached was to sponsor a COPIS newsletter (which venture has yet, in 1987, to get underway).

In November 1985 Gallaudet University hosted the Fall Conference, with Frank Duffy, Dick Neville, and Barbara Pavan as planners. On November 3, in Alexandria, a business meeting resulted in the election of Don Beach and Carol Wood to membership (now at 64). There was further discussion of dealing with delinquent members, and plans were made for the Spring 1986 meeting to launch the topic of preparation programs for those who supervise, which topic had been selected for the Fall 1986 conference in Tampa. Note was made of the not-yet-existent newsletter.

On February 28, 1986 in San Francisco, the aforementioned program (planned by Karolyn Snyder) was presented and further plans for the Tampa session were discussed by the 29 members in attendance. It was subsequently reported that Barbara Pavan was elected to the Presidency for 1986-1987. The death of Morris L. Cogan in November 1985 was noted.

November 7-8-9, 1986 were the dates of a well-attended conference hosted by the University of South Florida, the conference theme being "The Future Preparation of Supervisors." The conference planners were Karolyn Snyder, Bob Anderson, and Art Shapiro. Notable non-COPIS presenters included Ralph W. Tyler, B. Othanel Smith, Frances Bolin and local area school supervisors. Subsequently Pedamorphosis, Inc., having underwritten some of the program/speakers expenses, published and distributed the conference notes and papers in the form of Wingspan, Volume 3, No. 1, December 1986. As part of the conference, a "Syllabus Fair" was featured. President Pavan, in a 'reflection' piece indicated her view that the purpose of COPIS is to provide a time a place for

  • A dialogue about teaching, learning and supervision;
  • The stimulation of differing ideas and perspectives;
  • The challenge of conflict;
  • The pleasure of agreement;
  • The celebration of each other;
  • A time for learning; and NOT to define teaching and supervision.

Member reaction appeared to affirm Pavan's statement.

In the business meeting, Alfonso (Site Committee) reported that because of travel complications and personnel changes the 1987 Fall Conference will be shifted from Penn State, as proposed a year earlier, to Temple University. It was suggested that the theme "preparation of supervisors" remains appropriate, as does the growing assumption of an "advocacy" role by supervisors. Plans for the Spring 1987 session were geared to dialogue-only, since the Tampa conference had provided intensity of input. It was agreed that COPIS would contribute to memorial funds for two recently-decreased COPIS members, John Morgan and Dorothy Franks. A light (and informative) moment was provided by Treasurer Hazi, who gave dramatic reading related to COPIS's expenditure for an accountant. An explicit question, concerning possible investment of the COPIS reserve funds and thereby raising tax funds in a non-interest-bearing account. Four new members (Andres Trimono, Bernard Bediali, John Seyfarth, and Lawrence Finkel) were approved, and one former member who had been dropped for the attendance rule was reinstated. It was reported that Bob Anderson will served for a year as COPIS historian and the Bob Alfonso will do a survey on the membership. Carl Glickman proposed that the Tenth/Eleventh/Twelfth Anniversary of COPIS be celebrated in the Fall of 1987 meeting through a dramatic recreation.

In New Orleans on March 20, 1987, in a discussion following up the Tampa conference, a brief business meeting called attention to a $2000 Treasury balance and reviewed the status of COPIS membership.

As the COPIS Anniversary sessions looms on the horizon, Carl Glickman assumes the COPIS Presidency and Gillian Cook takes over the Secretary-Treasurer role. The agenda includes a report by Bob Alfonso on the membership survey. The program topic is "The Effects of Local, State, and National Mandates on Supervisory Practices."

Although it might be hard to assess as a factor in the personal and professional development of its members, the "socializing" dimension of COPIS seems to be as important as the substantive dimension in explaining the high value that is ascribed to COPIS membership. Every meeting affords opportunity for informal conversation, eating meals together, gathering around a pool, attending cultural and other events and enjoying special activities such as the Texas Barbeque in Coupland, Texas, the parties and dinners hosted by COPIS members, and other memorable moments of enjoyment. The personal as well as educational bonds between the people of COPIS make it all the more rewarding to serve as an educator for whom the ASCD'S' is writ large and bold.


Arthur Blumberg and Edward Pajak, founding members of COPIS, made profound contributions to the study and practice of instructional supervision. In their memory, the Blumberg-Pajak Scholarship fund supports awards and travel for doctoral students and recent graduates to attend and be recognized at COPIS events.

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