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Biography of Herman J. Muller, S.J.

Herman J. Muller S. J. was one of the most beloved professors this university has known. He began his tenure as Associate Professor at the University of Detroit in 1956, was named Chairman of the Department of History in 1959 and was granted a full professorship in 1964.

Prior to becoming a professor at the University of Detroit he was a professor at Xavier University in Cincinnati 1943-1947, Loyola University in Chicago 1950, West Baden College 1950-1952 and John Carroll University 1952-1956.

The following degrees were earned by Father Muller during his lifetime:

Fr. Muller was an early innovator in distance education. The University of Detroit News Release from October 25, 1974 states that he was "a Detroit area pioneer in the use of public television as an educational vehicle. He began broadcasting history classes on Channel 56 in 1957 during television's pre-tape era. Fr. Muller and Dr. Norbert Gossman presented 83 live television classes on the "Renaissance Man" that year. Fr. Muller continued broadcasting with Channel 56 until 1967." The syllabus for The Development of Western Civilization History: - 2 class states, "There is a tendency while watching TV to sit back, relax, and let the performer go all out to please the viewer. In presenting TV courses, the lecturer or demonstrator does not look upon himself as a performer or entertainer. He looks upon himself as a teacher and upon his viewers as students, and he treats them accordingly."

Between 1968 and 1972 Fr. Muller was the resident coordinator and academic advisor for The University of Detroit's Dublin Ireland Program. The same Oct. 25, 1974 News Release stated that the program "offers students majoring in the arts an opportunity to live and study in Ireland during their junior year. In addition to gaining degree credits the students are enabled to travel in the British Isles or on the Continent during the Christmas and Easter class recesses." One student, Susan March, wrote in a 1977 personal letter to Fr. Muller, "I think of you many times and remember the good time we all had in Europe during the summer of 1967. I really treasure those memories. I was always so grateful to have been able to go on this trip .... And you were so kind to make special arrangements for me. I always appreciated all your consideration in that matter." Another student wrote, "At the risk of sounding sentimental you will not be forgotten because of your great ability to make history live again. I envy those students who went to Europe with you."

"While coordinating the U. of D. program Fr. Muller also was a visiting lecturer in history at University College, Dublin, in 1968-69 and 1971-72 and at University College, Cork, for the academic year 1973-74." In addition, he served as University of Detroit campus coordinator for the Sophia University, Tokyo, Japan Asian Studies program.

A Faculty Evaluation and Recommendation form prepared and signed by the History Department Chair, Frederic H. Hayes on December 11, 1970 states, "Fr. Muller is especially valuable for his work with undergraduate students who have difficulty. He has enormous patience and understanding with such students, devoting many hours to individual work with them."

Father Muller's research subjects included the history of the Jesuits, Jesuit architecture and the University of Detroit. He traveled extensively conducting basic field research and consulting with European Jesuit Provincials about Jesuit Baroque architecture. From Father Muller's 1969 Annual Report, "I managed to get in three weeks in Spain where I did practically nothing but visit pre-suppression Jesuit churches with a view to furthering my work in the contribution of Jesuits to the field of architecture." He studied French and German to assist him in his research. In this same report he wrote, "Since I am stymied in my German reading I am currently taking a German course with a view to speeding up my reading of highly technical matter." One of his final projects involved researching the history of Detroit street names.

Fr. Muller donated his personal copies of the Woodstock Letters1 to the McNichols Campus Library in 2000 and returned frequently thereafter to the University Archives to conduct research and consult the Woodstock Letters.

His publications include:

Professional memberships included:

Father Muller was Titan Athletics #1 fan; the first faculty member at the University to receive a varsity letter, varsity jacket and the title, "Greatest Faculty Sports Supporter." At the award ceremony, Brad Kinsman, then Athletic Director stated, "He has most loyally given the teams his presence and blessing." Fred Henley, S.J. writes in the Spring, 99 Province Pen, "For 37 years Herman Muller has given his backing to the baseball and basketball teams, both men's and ladies'. Not only has he attended their games, rain or shine, win or lose, but many a year he rode to Florida with the men's team on the team bus for the college grapefruit league spring training and season opening. Let me stress: He rode on the team bus with the team."

In 1987 after his retirement from full time classroom teaching he served as chaplain for the athletic teams and as a tutor. His faculty emeritus file is teeming with letters of congratulation and appreciation from former students, colleagues, fellow instructors and supervisors.

Margaret Auer, Dean of University Libraries and Instructional Technology states in her introduction to the history of the University, "Fr. Herman J. Muller, S.J. and Sr. Mary Justine Sabourin, R.S.M. of Mercy College of Detroit are the primary authors of the official history books of each of their respective institutions prior to consolidation and the co-authored post consolidation book, Legacy of Excellence. In recognition of the work of these two authors, the University of Detroit Mercy awarded both Sr. Sabourin and Fr. Muller Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees in 2002. A little known fact in the community is that both of these individuals were in their nineties when they began to collaborate on the Legacy of Excellence history."

Herman J. Muller, S.J. was born in Cleveland, Ohio, April, 7, 1909. He attended St. Francis and St. Ann grade schools from 1915-1923; St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland, Ohio from 1923-1927 and he joined the Society of Jesus at Milford, Ohio on August 7, 1928. His studies in theology were at St. Mary's in St. Mary's, Kansas from 1938 to 1942. He was ordained at West Baden College, Indiana on June 18, 1941 and his tertianship was at St. Stanislaus in Parma, Ohio, 1942-1943.

Fr. Muller died Thursday, April 19, 2007, shortly after his 98th birthday. The funeral mass was held on Monday, April 23 at Gesu Church across from the university. Interment is at Colombiere Center Cemetery.

An appreciation for the life and work of Father Herman J. Muller, S.J. is warmly and thoughtfully stated in the news release issued by the University of Detroit Mercy upon his death:

"One of the most well-respected and beloved Jesuit professors at the University of Detroit Mercy passed away Thursday morning, April 19, at the age of 98 at Colombiere Center in Clarkston. Fr. Herman Muller, S.J., a professor of History and Economics served as chairman of the history department for many years and was named Professor Emeritus in 1978.

Throughout his years of teaching and scholarship, Fr. Muller was an active advocate of student development in the spirit of the University's mission. A visible presence in the tutoring center, he provided a warm and constant example of the teaching and learning environment that both challenges and enables students to become leaders in society and in their professions. The importance of his relationship to students has also been evident through his longstanding devotion to the Detroit Titan athletics teams and their games, which he attended faithfully.

"Fr. Muller has either written or lived the entire history of U of D and UDM since 1877," said UDM President Gerard L. Stockhausen, S.J., Ph.D. "He loved the University and its students so much that two years ago, at the age of 96, he was still tutoring each and every day. Even in the 'good old days' when he was teaching four or five courses every semester, he always made time for everyone, from famous alumni to struggling freshmen. The University is grateful for Fr. Muller's life and his longtime commitment to higher education", he added.

Fr. Muller lived on campus in Lansing Reilly Hall with other Jesuit colleagues. Fr. Jerry Cavanagh, Professor of Business Administration commented, "I enjoyed being with Herman Muller, S.J., our University of Detroit historian. He was loved by students, alumni, fellow Jesuits and all who knew him. He had a detailed knowledge of the University, Detroit, and the world around him, and he was eager to share his knowledge. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the University and the Titans, regularly being at basketball games and other UDM sporting events; when he was using a walker and it was icy, I would drive him to Calihan Hall. Driving long distances with Herman, as I often did, meant that one did not need a radio; he would regale you with captivating stories and information."

Fr.John Staudenmaier remembers Fr. Muller this way: Living with Herman. He was completely charming and, although I lived with him when his energy was beginning to fade, I heard stories about some of his adventures in younger years. He led U of D trips to Ireland with students; I remember some motorbike stories laced into those summer times. And he was a technologically advanced teacher, creating recorded course lectures for a U of D program in the 1970s. Of course, he was a complete legend for his commitment to U of D athletes. I remember that when the university discontinued baseball, Fr. Stockhausen visited him personally before the announcement, knowing what a disappointment it would be for Herm. And until a very ripe old age, he took the baseball bus on the annual spring southern road trip, riding with the players and saying mass with them. Herm also had a reputation for penny pinching. I think there were times when he would turn up on those bus rides with only a little bit of loose change. Knowing this, of course, some of his coach buddies would buy him breakfast or lunch. I also loved it when Herm would begin a story with something like: "A few years ago . . . . " and I would say something like "Herman, just how long ago was that?" And then he'd think back and eventually admit (recall?) that it was 40 or 50 years back. I don't remember, ever, over 20 + years living with Herm, hearing a mean spirited word come out of his mouth.

1The Woodstock Letters were a publication of the Society of Jesus from 1872 until 1969. They were named after Woodstock College, the Jesuit seminary in Maryland where they were published. Written almost entirely by Jesuits, and originally intended to be read only by Jesuits, the Letters were "a record of current events and historical notes connected with the colleges and missions of the Society of Jesus in North and South America." They include historical articles, updates on work being done by the Jesuits, eyewitness accounts of historic events, book reviews, obituaries, enrollment statistics for Jesuit schools, and various other items of interest to the Society.

Sally Young, Administrative Assistant
Office of the Dean
University Libraries/Instructional Design Studio

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