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One of the Lifetime Giving Society's Newest Members: Dr. Joanne Mortimer




By Hannah Oros ’14  

Joanne Stafford Mortimer, Professor Emerita of History is one of the newest members of the Lifetime Giving Society. Members of the Lifetime Giving Society have given $100,000 or more to Muhlenberg over the course of their lifetime.  

Dr. Mortimer was the first female faculty member in the History Department here at Muhlenberg College and witnessed the transformation of Muhlenberg into a coed college. “It was interesting – the best word I know for it – in some instances they didn’t know quite what to do with me… most of the faculty was only too happy that the college had gone coed…the women here very rapidly began to gain positions of power on campus, for example, editor of the paper,” she says.  

Dr. Mortimer taught history of civilization courses, four in the day and one at night. She notes that she had never planned to teach as a career, but “people often try to plan their future too much and things change.” However, Dr. Mortimer knew that she was interested in history since she was a child and pursued a degree at Dickinson College focusing on European diplomacy. Dr. Mortimer found her time at Muhlenberg rewarding, especially because of the close-knit community between faculty and students.  

Dr. Mortimer also met her husband, Dr. Charles “Chuck” E. Mortimer ’42, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at Muhlenberg College. In fact, Dr. Mortimer stated that her husband was “the person who started giving…before we were even married, the first decade he was on the faculty, he gave to the gym” and he made a difference.  The couple served together as fundraising chairs to encourage the faculty to give to the new library.  

Dr. Mortimer continues to give to Muhlenberg because she taught here, and in honor of her husband, who passed away in 2001. “Chuck was not only a Muhlenberg alumnus, he was from Allentown and he taught the largest classes anybody had ever taught at Muhlenberg – 200 incoming freshman in chemistry,” she says. “After ’63 Chuck became the pre-med advisor and advised 200-250 premed students and sent 55-65 students to medical school every year. During all of his hard work, Chuck also found the time to write and be the sole author of one of the most largely influential freshman chemistry texts.”  

Dr. Mortimer also gives to Muhlenberg College because she knows it matters to the Muhlenberg community as a whole and because of her passion for the liberal arts. “I hope it helps everybody. I hope it helps the College fulfill some of the ideas it has and some of the commitments it has made. More than anything else, I believe in the liberal arts.”  

Dr. Mortimer finds being a member of the Lifetime Giving Society personally enriching and rewarding. Speaking to those who are considering being a part of the Lifetime Giving Society, she would say, “It’s one of the best experiences they would have. And I think they’re not only doing something that’s good for the school, but also good for the country.”  

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