Burt L. Monroe, Jr. (1930-1994)
Internationally recognized as an expert on birds, Dr. Burt L. Monroe, Jr. was known by UofL students and colleagues alike for his wide-ranging intellect, his ability to inspire, his keen sense of humor, and his commitment to the University.
Dr. Monroe was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1930 and received his B.S. in Biology from the University of Louisville in 1953. He served as a naval pilot and flight instructor from 1953 to 1959. In 1965, he obtained his Ph.D. in Vertebrate Zoology from Louisiana State University.
Dr. Monroe’s career as a beloved teacher and administrator at the University of Louisville began in 1965. He taught ornithology, herpetology, systematic zoology, and zoogeography as well as supervised the research of countless graduate students. In 1970, he became Chair of the Biology Department and continued in that capacity for 23 years. During his career, he was honored with the University’s outstanding teaching and distinguished service awards.
His enthusiasm for the University also showed in his involvement with athletics. He was often seen in his red Cardinal jacket at the scorer’s table at UofL basketball games. An avid basketball fan and keen competitor himself, he served as the Faculty Representative to the NCAA and as President of the Metro Conference. Dr. Monroe was honored posthumously by the UofL Athletic Hall of Fame.
Dr. Monroe’s contributions to his field are vast. He served as Vice President and President of the Kentucky Ornithological Society, Treasurer and President of the American Ornithologists' Union (AOU), and Chair of that organization’s Committee on Classification and Nomenclature. In 1983, he authored the AOU Check-list of North American Birds. For his contributions to the American Ornithologists' Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he was named a Fellow in both organizations. He co-authored the 1,000-page Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World published in 1990.
He was equally committed to service to his community. Over a period of nearly 50 years, he was involved in numerous community organizations and commissions including serving as President of the Bernheim Forest Foundation, Chairman of the Louisville Zoological Commission, and President of the Louisville Zoo Foundation.
Because of his expertise in and commitment to his field, Dr. Monroe was viewed by many as the “keeper” of Kentucky ornithology. It is fitting that his last work was The Birds of Kentucky, which was published posthumously in 1994.