Volume 7, Number 1, 1997

Munroe Hall named in honor of well-known historian

The receiving line extended down the hall and out the doors of the Trabant University Center Nov. 2 as more than 250 friends, family, faculty, former students and members of the University community gathered for the dedication of a new building named in honor of John A. Munroe, AS '36, '41M, H. Rodney Sharp Professor Emeritus of History.

The well-known scholar, teacher, alumnus, authority on Delaware history and nationally recognized historian was honored by his alma mater with the naming of the recently completed Delaware Avenue complex that houses the departments of History and Anthropology.

President David P. Roselle welcomed the audience and recognized the guest of honor, his wife, Dorothy, their children--Stephen Munroe of Shorewood, Ill.; Carol Munroe of Cambridge, Mass.; and Michael Munroe of Chesterfield, Va.--and other relatives and classmates. Representatives of the architect, Buck Simpers & Associates, also were present.

The president praised the "adaptive reuse" of the three duplex buildings on Delaware Avenue that were renovated for the project and connected to the adjacent new construction, noting that the University is particularly proud of its historic preservation efforts and the appearance of Delaware Avenue.

Carol Hoffecker, Richards Professor of History, spoke of Munroe's distinguished career and long association with the University--from his arrival as a freshman in 1932, through his tenure as chairperson of the department from 1952-1969 and as a faculty member until his retirement in 1982.

"When the decision was made to create this beautiful new home for the history and anthropology departments," she said, "the name of John Munroe arose so naturally that no one could have imagined any other."

Hoffecker also noted Munroe's well-known and equally respected publications and books, many of which focus on the history of the First State and the University.

Provost Mel Schiavelli noted that the renovated facilities on Delaware Avenue were built in 1911 and used as faculty housing. The duplexes were constructed just three years before Munroe's birth on March 15, 1914.

Munroe thanked the speakers and members of the audience and expressed special appreciation to G. Burton Pearson Jr., UD trustee, who was a member of the Newark Board of Education that, in 1936, approved then 21-year-old Munroe's appointment to an emergency vacancy at Newark High School.

Munroe reviewed the highlights of his career and reflected on the campus when he was a student and member of the faculty. He spoke of the separate Men's and Women's colleges and their eventual merger during and after World War II, and of faculty and presidents he knew.

"The 65 years since I entered Delaware College have slipped by easily and quickly," he said. "I came from a happy home where my parents supported my desire to become a scholar and a teacher. In Newark, students and colleagues helped me lead the sort of life I hoped for. And here, too, I met my wife, who made possible the satisfaction I found in my career and, bolstered by the support and understanding of our children, the very happy memories I enjoy.

"I am deeply grateful to the trustees of the University, to its present administrators and to my colleagues for the honor they have paid me."

The formal dedication of John A. Munroe Hall was conducted by Judge Pearson, who referred to Munroe as "Delaware's foremost historian" and lauded the scholar for his integrity, accuracy, technical research and service at the University of Delaware.

He said the University is proud to honor Munroe as "a Delaware native son, alumnus, professor, mentor, historian and friend."

--Ed Okonowicz, AS '69,'84M

John A. Munroe Hall, located near the intersection of Orchard Road and Delaware Avenue, is a 27,000-square-foot complex that houses the departments of History and Anthropology.

It includes three older brick houses, 46-56 West Delaware Avenue, and a new building that was constructed on a vacant area between the existing buildings and the Main Street parking garage.

The completed structures--combining old Newark architecture and new construction--were renovated and designed to complement the historic appearance along East Delaware Avenue.

The $3.2 million project, started in the fall of 1996, was completed in time to move faculty into the offices for the beginning of the 1997 academic year.

The building houses faculty and graduate student offices, a seminar room and anthropology laboratory space.