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Canisius College lost a dear friend and a legend on February 9, when Melvin (‘Mel’) Schroeder, associate professor of English, passed away after a short illness. He was 78.

“Mel Schroeder was one of the most cherished members of the Canisius family, a giant among giants in the college’s storied English Department,” says President John J. Hurley. “As an English major and a former student of Mel’s, I witnessed how he practiced the Jesuit art of cura personalis each and every day of his professional life. He will be remembered as perhaps one of the most well-read faculty members in the history of the college. I will miss him greatly.”

Schroeder spent nearly a half century in the classroom and taught an estimated 5,000 students. He specialized in 20th century literature, especially British literature, as well as writing and drama, but Schroeder was happiest when he taught his course on Saul Bellow, “the greatest writer in the world,” he often said.

Schroeder was one of the earliest professors to teach in the All-College Honors Program, and among the first group of Canisius faculty to team-teach coursework. Literature & Philosophy; Literature, Science & Technology; Literature, War & History; Literary London, and Literature & Film are a few of the interdisciplinary classes Schroeder shared with professors in philosophy, chemistry, history, communication studies, and with colleagues in his own English Department. He found the educational approach of collaborative learning beneficial for students because it led them to understand the world as a whole and the value of drawing on the knowledge of student peers to read and understand materials better.

“The classroom was the place that brought Mel profound satisfaction,” says Kenneth M. Sroka ’65, PhD, professor of English. Sroka was a close friend and colleague of Schroeder, as well as one of his first students at Canisius. “Mel relished the exchange of ideas with students and the exploration of unknown territory. He loved the very idea of higher education. Mel was a gifted conversationalist, but he always let everyone else speak first before adding his insights.”

Outside the classroom, Schroeder spent many late nights advising reporters and editors of The Griffin, in the basement of the Richard E. Winter ’42 Student Center. He served six years as chair of the Canisius College English Department, four years as chair of the Faculty Senate, and lent his expertise to several college committees, including the Senate’s Educational Policy Committee, its Academic Council, the President’s Advisory Council, and the Senate’s Review and Appeals Committee.

A familiar face at Holy Angels Academy for 20 years as a teacher of “College English,” and “Literary London,” Schroeder taught college-level English to young women attending the Catholic, college preparatory school. He served as a faculty member in the college degree programs at Attica and Wyoming Correctional facilities, and presented any number of writing courses and workshops throughout the community.

Schroeder earned his BA and MA from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and was at work on his doctoral dissertation on the 20th Century British Novel. He especially loved the works of Joseph Conrad, D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce and E.M. Forster.

He is survived by his wife of over 50 years, Adelaide, who worked in the Canisius library for 24 years; and three children, Margaret (Marti), Gavin, and young Mel Jr.

A memorial service for Mel Schroeder is being planned on campus for sometime this spring. More information will follow as it becomes available.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial gifts be made in Mel’s name to Canisius College. Condolences may be mailed to Mel’s family at 329 Parkside Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14214.