Although Allen Caucutt knew he wanted to be an art educator before he even graduated from high school, his career almost didn’t make it beyond the student teaching phase. During a placement in a third grade classroom, the school principal called Caucutt into his office and told him he could swap his white T-shirt and sport coat for a white button-down and tie, or not show up the next day. Caucutt opted for the tie. “When the principal said jump, you said: how high?” he says.
More than 50 years later, he is looking back on a distinguished career as an art educator. Caucutt’s high school instructor had been greatly influential in his development as a young man and artist, and Caucutt wanted to do for others what his instructor had done for him. He began studying in the Art Education program at the Wisconsin State College of Milwaukee in 1953, and in 1957 he was in the first official graduating class from the newly established University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He earned his master’s degree in art education from UWM in 1963.
At that time, the entire art department was located in the third floor of Mitchell Hall. “The office door was always open, but you never went in. In my second semester, I was invited in to have coffee and sit down and talk with the instructors about art,” Caucutt fondly recalls. Some of the faculty he studied under included Fred Berman and Joe Friebert, whom Allen regards as a fantastic pair of artists and educators.
After 55 years, the last 14 spent at UWM, Caucutt officially retired from teaching in January 2012. Over the course of his teaching career, he educated countless students and mentored more than 160 future educators. In 2006, the Peck School of the Arts presented him with the Outstanding Service to the Arts Award and in 2009, he was honored as a Distinguished Alumni by the UW-Milwaukee Alumni Association. We’re so glad he chose the tie.