Julius J. Oppenheimer (1890 - 1983)
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Dr. Julius J. Oppenheimer joined the University of Louisville as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 1930 and remained in that position until he retired in 1957, thus earning the distinction of being the longest serving Dean of the College. He was also a professor of education and served as head of the Department of Education for 30 years, from 1930 until 1960. In 1971, UofL’s School of Education gave him a distinguished service award, and in 1977 the education building on Belknap Campus was renamed in his honor.
A native of Missouri, Dr. Oppenheimer earned degrees from Missouri State Teachers College, the University of Missouri, and Columbia University Teacher’s College. He was a veteran of World War I where he served in the Army Medical Corps. Before coming to UofL, he held positions as a high school principal, as a superintendent of schools, and as Associate Director of Research for Stephens College in Missouri.
Dr. Oppenheimer was widely known as an educator and scholar. He wrote a number of books and articles on education and was listed in “American Leaders in Education.” In 1934, he began supervising a pioneer program for students who wished to skip their last year in high school and enroll as freshmen at the University of Louisville. He promoted interest in music history, art history, the art library, and opportunities for international education.
His commitment to higher education extended far beyond the University of Louisville. He served on a number of state and regional boards and councils focused on higher education. Twice he went to post-World War II Germany on educational missions for the U.S. State Department.
Dr. Oppenheimer is probably most remembered for the longevity and quality of his leadership during some very trying times for the University, the community and the country. He was Dean during the great flood of 1937 when the Ohio River flooded nearly three fourths of Louisville causing the University to close for two weeks. Heled the College during World War II as the war brought dramatic changes to campus and A&S enrollment dropped significantly. During the war, Dr. Oppenheimer was in charge of the unit of the Navy V-12 program located at UofL to train naval officers. After the war, he administered the academic program for the Naval ROTC in the College.