University of Delaware
University of Delaware President Emeritus E. Arthur Trabant, undated photo

Celebrating a president's legacy

President Emeritus E.A. Trabant, 1920-2012


6:40 p.m., July 20, 2012--President Emeritus E. Arthur Trabant, who died July 20, is remembered by his University of Delaware friends and colleagues.

Patrick Harker, President

E. Arthur Trabant guided the University of Delaware through a crucial stage in its development into a national university. When he stepped down as president a second time in 1990, the University was a much different institution from the one he came to in 1968--with nearly twice as many undergraduates, a range of innovative academic programs and an expanded physical campus. His legacy shines today on our campus and in the accomplishments of the many students, faculty and colleagues he led for more than two decades. 

Mary Ann Hitchens, Retired Senior Associate Director of Athletics and Recreation Services

Among his numerous impressive contributions to the University of Delaware, Dr. E. Arthur Trabant was a progressive and visionary leader in the area of gender equity. This included an instrumental role in the early successful implementation of Title IX at UD and an enduring commitment to its spirit throughout his tenure as President. It truly was an honor to have had the opportunity to develop as a young professional under his leadership.

Carol Hoffecker, Delaware Historian and Richards Professor Emerita of History

E. Arthur Trabant came to the University of Delaware in the late 1960s, a time of campus unrest coupled with the rapid expansion of the student body and faculty.  From the first he demonstrated leadership skills that turned these difficult circumstances into great opportunities for the University and for the state of Delaware.  When disaffected students held a candle light procession to show their solidarity and mourning for the students killed at Kent State, President Trabant and his wife, Jerry did not put down the procession, they joined it.  

His was an open presidency.  Recognizing the opportunity to redesign the rapidly growing academic institution, he created the Community Design Commission made up of students, faculty and administrators to chart the future.  He championed rights and opportunities for minorities and women and liberalized the rules for students while giving them greater responsibility.  The faculty were encouraged to create new knowledge as well as to transmit what is already known. President Trabant was especially proud of the creation of new programs that have benefitted our state and beyond such as continuing  education for retirees and graduate colleges in the fields of marine studies and urban affairs and public policy. 

The University of Delaware, its students and faculty and our state owe a great debt of gratitude to this courageous, visionary, and humane individual.

G. Arno Loessner, Associate Professor Emeritus, School of Public Policy and Administration

During Dr. Trabant's tenure as president, his leadership was the key factor in transitioning the University of Delaware to an even stronger research, teaching and public service institution. He inspired me and others around him with his positive approach to advancing the quality of, as he would say it, 'our university.'  It was an honor to know him and work closely with him for many years. 

Daniel Rich, University Professor of Public Policy

Art Trabant became president of the University of Delaware at one of the most turbulent times on America’s campuses. He navigated through those troubled times with determination, but at the same time kept his focus on enhancing the University’s academic character. In his two decades of leadership, undergraduate enrollments grew dramatically, new graduate programs and colleges were launched, and the research and public service roles of the university were greatly expanded.  Most important, President Trabant strengthened the faculty.  He recruited a large number of new faculty who were committed to higher standards of teaching and scholarship, and who were equally committed to becoming more engaged than their predecessors in academic governance. He was especially proud of his efforts at promoting gender equity, and the changes he initiated greatly improved the representation and status of women on the faculty and in the student body. Art Trabant left an indelible imprint on the University's character, and he set the trajectory for its emergence as a major public university.

David Roselle, President Emeritus

President Trabant had a long and productive tenure at the University of Delaware. His accomplishments and his dedication established benchmarks for all of us who have or will follow him. On the personal note, Louise and I will be forever grateful to Art and Jerry for their welcome and their many kindnesses upon our arrival at the University.

Carolyn Thoroughgood, Professor of Marine Science and Policy

When President Trabant arrived at the University of Delaware in 1968, he identified a significant opportunity for the University.  At that time with the release of the Stratton Commission Report, the nation was awakened to the ever-increasing multi-use and multi-conflict demands of society on its marine and coastal resources. President Trabant recognized that the University of Delaware had no organized academic program in the area of marine studies and thus no way to address ocean and coastal issues even though the state of Delaware is located entirely within the coastal zone. It was President Trabant’s vision and support that resulted in the formation of the interdisciplinary Graduate College of Marine Studies (CMS) in June 1970.  The newly formed college became the home of the nascent Sea Grant Program and by 1976 was designated the ninth Sea Grant College Program in the nation. That same year another hallmark event occurred with the arrival of the university’s first coastal oceanographic research vessel, the R/V Cape Henlopen that resulted in UD’s joining the nation’s academic research vessel fleet. Today the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, with its international reputation for excellence, stands on the shoulders of the foresight and commitment provided by President Trabant 44 years ago.  Without his energy and commitment, the rapid evolution of this college would not have occurred. 

Photo courtesy of University of Delaware Archives

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