|Chapter 33 Mervin Grant Filler 1928-1931. Waning Vigor|
DR. FILLER was born in 1873, at Boiling Springs, five miles from Carlisle, and graduated from the College in 1893 as valedictorian of his class. He taught in the College Preparatory School for six years, and on the retirement of Professor Whiting from the College, in 1899, succeeded him and was Professor of Latin for twenty-nine years, 1899-1928, with occasional leaves for graduate work. He was a brilliant teacher, and even during the years when classical studies were on the decline in most places, his Department was always large and popular, the students electing his work generally being of the best in the College. One of these students, now holding a most responsible position in the graduate school of the Naval Academy at Annapolis, declared at the time of Filler's death that he had taken Filler's work not so much out of interest in Latin, as because of the charm and excellence of its teaching. As a teacher, Filler had few equals, and probably no superiors.
When Morgan became President in 1914, Filler was Class Dean, and Morgan appointed him Dean of the College, and often said that any success he achieved was due in no small degree to the faithful and able service of Dean Filler. He seemed to have infinite capacity for the details of the office, and had clear views as to his possibilities as student adviser. Many boys in trouble for various reasons got from him always wise and helpful counsel; and when discipline was necessary the subject of it might regret its need, but was always forced to admit its justice. His work as Dean and disciplinarian seemed in no way to lessen the respect, even love, in which he had been previously held by the student body. He was great as a teacher, but no less so as the heart-to-heart adviser of hundreds of students.
Filler became President in August, 1928, and served less than three years. Even when elected he was physically a
stricken man, though nobody knew it, least of all himself and he served as President while his strength was being gradually undermined. In January, 1931, he was prostrated, and in February went to Atlantic City for what he expected to be a brief rest. He was soon forced to go to the University Hospital, Philadelphia, where he died March 28, 1931. His administration, like that of Emory before him, closed in its early morning, cutting short what might have been a brilliant period for the College. During his tenure he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from Ohio Wesleyan and Bucknell.
Though Filler's administration was brief, he left behind him evidences of his fertile brain and strong hand. The Alumni Gymnasium was completed and put into successful operation during his first year. The Athletic Field was enlarged and otherwise improved. Filler completed the collection of portraits of all the Presidents of the college history, and secured other portraits of men associated with the early history of the College. He gathered many other articles of interest to Dickinson into one room in West College, set apart for the purpose, the "Dickinsoniana Room." Conway Hall was renovated and made a fine modern dormitory for Freshmen, and the second floor of Old West was beautifully equipped for college administration. Filler carried out negotiations with the Carnegie Foundation which resulted in a grant of $2,000 annually for five years for the purchase of books for the college library. He also secured a survey of the College by educational experts during the second year of his administration.
In 1899 the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity was permitted to erect a small stone lodge on the northwest corner of the main campus. When this became too small for the growing fraternity needs during Filler's administration, the College purchased the fraternity house, and it is now the home of the college Department of Psychology. The two stories and basement remodeled and adequately equipped furnish ample accommodations for offices, classrooms, and laboratories.
At the same time the College received the sum of $50,000 as residuary legatee of the estate of Richard V. C. Watkins, of the Class of 1912. With the approval of his surviving relatives this fund was designated as endowment for the R. V. C. Watkins Professorship of Psychology.
Arthur V. Bishop, Ph.D., became Professor of Latin in 1928, succeeding to Filler's Department. Albert H. Gerberich, Ph.D., of the Class of 1918, was added to the Modern Language Departments in 1928. Paul W. Pritchard, of the Class of 1920, served as Instructor in Physical Education 1928-1930. In 1929 the following faculty additions were made: Wellington A. Parlin, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Physics on the death of Professor Mohler; George R. Stephens, Ph.D., Associate Professor in English; Horace E. Rogers, Ph.D., of the Class of 1924, Associate Professor of Chemistry; Percy W. Griffiths, Associate Professor of Physical Educa- tion; Elmer Charles Herber, A.M., Instructor in Biology; E. Winifred Chapman, A.B., Instructor in Physical Educa- tion of Women; and Marie D. Martindell, Assistant Libra- rian. In 1930, Francis Asbury Waterhouse, Ph.D., succeeded Professor Bowman as Professor of French, and Cornelius W. Fink, A.M., became Associate Professor of Economics and Political Science.
When it became clear that Filler was a very sick man, the trustees were called together to give him a protracted vacation, that he might regain his health. Sadly enough, he died the day of this meeting, and the trustees' problem was quite other than they had expected. In the emergency they asked Dr. Morgan to serve temporarily as President as long as might seem necessary under the circumstances, and as might be mutually agreeable. Morgan consented, and this arrangement at once became operative, March 28, 1931, and continued until January 4, 1932
Filler's body lies in the new Westminster Cemetery, just west of Carlisle.