Francis M. Pottenger, III, a longtime professor at University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s College of Education (COE), died on January 4, 2023, at the age of 94. Pottenger served the COE science and curriculum faculty for 50 years—his contributions and publications in science curriculum design are numerous.
“To me, Frank was a mentor, a colleague and a pillar in the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG) ʻohana,” said Associate Professor Linda Venenciano. “Many of his impromptu ideas were wildly ambitious (to me), yet at the same time, it was exciting and fun to ponder what could be the next cutting-edge endeavor in curriculum research and development. Frank was truly phenomenal.”
Discovering his passions
Born in Pasadena, California in 1928, Pottenger was the eldest of four siblings, all of whom performed chores for their household, the family farm and dairy, and what was then the Pottenger Sanatorium in Monrovia, California.
Pottenger served a variety of positions from deckhand on a merchant marine steamer to serving in the Korean War as a drafted soldier, and teaching math in Japan.
After earning his BS from Otterbein, Pottenger would go on to earn an MEd from Xavier University, MS from New Mexico Highlands University, and a PhD from Claremont Graduate School.
Enhancing the College of Education
More than a decade after joining the COE in 1966, Pottenger co-founded the Pacific Circle Consortium, an initiative in international co-operation between educational research and development institutions in the Pacific Region.
Among his many professional roles, Pottenger was also the creator and director of the Foundational Approaches in Science Teaching (FAST) project from 1966–1983. This project marked the beginning of science education research at CRDG, and its legacy of innovative approaches and practices of science continues today.
FAST would become the core philosophy for consequent science programs, including the Developmental Approaches in Science and Health (DASH) and Hawaiʻi Marine Science Studies projects, which Pottenger also directed. Using curricula from these programs, he helped to create integrated STEM education programs with educators in Japan, Korea, Israel, Micronesia, Slovakia and Russia.
“When you think about the impact Frank Pottenger has had on science education nationally and internationally in elementary through high school, think FAST, DASH, Marine Science, Physical Science. And then there are all of us who were privileged to have worked with and learned from Frank as the visionary he was,” said Dean Emeritus Donald Young.
In 1984, Pottenger joined the COE Curriculum and Instruction graduate faculty, followed by a joint appointment as professor of education and public health (Department of Public Health Sciences) in 1986. He retired in 2015 and was designated professor emeritus in 2016. He is survived by his four children, 11 grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren, and his sister, Margaret. Services will be held in July.