Give to 'Berg: Office of Development & Alumni Relations
Muhlenberg College Dedicates the
Dr. John E. Trainer '35 Conference Room
On September 22, 2012, former students and colleagues, faculty, staff, family and friends gathered outside room 314 in the New Science Building to honor Dr. John E. Trainer, who served Muhlenberg College for 40 years.
The Dr. John E. Trainer '35 Conference Room honors Dr. Trainer as a 'Berg alumnus, esteemed professor, colleague and mentor who had a great impact at the College and in the Lehigh Valley. The space was made possible by the generous gift of many individuals whose lives he touched.
Dr. Trainer's family attended the dedication, including sons John E. Trainer, Jr. '65, one of the day's speakers, and David G. Trainer P'04. Daughter-in-law Robin Trainer P'04, and grandchildren, David Trainer and Karen Trainer '04 were also present. President Randy Helm and Dr. Carl Oplinger '58 , Professor Emeritus of Biology, and a former student and colleague of Dr. Trainer's, also shared the podium to recount fond and charming accounts of the man, who at one time could legitimately claim he was the biology department - he taught every course the department offered! Dr. Oplinger's remarks brought many to tears.
A Great Man
First arriving on campus as a student, Dr. Trainer remained at Muhlenberg after his graduation in 1935 to work as a biology lab assistant. He briefly left the College to teach in Tennessee and earn his master's degree at Cornell University before returning to Muhlenberg.
As a student in the 1930's, he traveled from south Bethlehem to campus by trolley, and if he missed the last trolley of the night, he would sleep in the former biology museum - later named the Dr. John E. Trainer '35 Biology Museum. Housed in the Trumbower building at the time, the museum showcased an impressive collection of biological specimens, and hosted fieldtrips of local school children for decades, until it was disassembled in 2006 during building renovations. Even today, some of his most treasured specimens remain on display, including the 2,000 pound polar bear, which stands at the bottom of the stairwell adjacent the conference room named in his honor.
During his tenure from 1939-1979, Dr. Trainer was well known for teaching anatomy and physiology courses, but his true passion lied with ornithology - the branch of zoology that studies birds.
During the war years, he taught as many as 28 hours per week, and at one point, it was reported that he and the other departmental staff had trained over half of the doctors in the Lehigh Valley. Many of his other students went on to become college, university and medical school professors - a few of his students even joined him as faculty of the biology department.
Dr. Trainer was fully invested in the education of his students. He once skied from south Muhlenberg Street to campus in order to give a final exam on the last day before Christmas break!
Dr. Trainer's legacy continues today through The Dr. John E. Trainer Scholarship for Summer Study in Biology, which was established after his retirement. Last year's student recipient of the scholarship, Kassandra Tessitore '14, conducted ecological marine research in Washington State, before presenting her findings at the Evolutionary Symposium, where she won best poster.
Muhlenberg College is grateful for Dr. Trainer's many years of service.