University of Delaware president emeritus Trabant dies at 92

The University of Delaware’s 22nd and 24th president Edward Arthur Trabant died Friday afternoon after suffering from a brief illness.

The university says the 92-year-old died at the Cokesbury Village Health Care Center in Hockessin.

President Trabant’s first term spanned 19 years, from 1968-1987, during which he led the university through a period of tremendous growth. Undergraduate enrollment doubled to 15,000, and the campus added classrooms, dorms and research buildings.

Trabant returned to the presidency in 1988, following the resignation of his successor Russel Jones, until 1990. 

“When [Trabant] stepped down as president a second time in 1990, the university was a much different institution from the one he came to in 1968 — with nearly twice as many undergraduates, a range of innovative academic programs and an expanded physical campus,” UD President Patrick T. Harker said. “His legacy shines today on our campus and in the accomplishments of the many students, faculty and colleagues he led for more than two decades.”

Trabant’s accomplishments include the creation of the Commission on the Status of Women and an Office of Women’s Affairs, ensuring educational opportunities for women. He is also credited with expanding the university’s partnerships with the state, private businesses and overseas institutions.

Born Feb. 28, 1920 in Los Angeles, Trabant is survived by his wife of 68 years, Jeraldine Merlyn Shanessy Trabant, and their three daughters, Jeri, Arta and Amanda Marie. 

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.