meet Armin Mruck: history professor emeritus
Armin Mruck with study abroad students He established TU's first study abroad and international exchange programs.

Armin Mruck and TU students in Berlin, Germany.

In his four decades with Towson University, Armin Mruck has overseen thousands of individual cultural exchanges and dozens of trips abroad that broadened minds and opened hearts. But of those stories of travel and transformation, none is more riveting than Mruck’s own journey.

In the summer of 1970, Mruck made his mark on TU when he established the university’s first study abroad program, introducing students to Europe’s leading cities. That first tour stopped in London, Rome and Berlin – East and West. Berlin was, in 1970, still divided after the ravages of World War II, a war Mruck saw firsthand.

Life During War Time


Armin Mruck on leave from German Air Force in 1944.

Armin Mruck on leave from German Air Force in 1944.


“My parents were good patriots, but very anti-Hitler. They knew he would be a disaster for Germany and Europe.” Mruck says. “I was sort of perplexed or sad that another war started,” he adds, but admits he was a typical teen and really did not understand the significance of Hitler’s rise to power. That significance soon became apparent as hospital trains full of wounded soldiers moved through his small town in East Prussia.

At 17, Mruck was drafted into military service and entered basic training for the Luftwaffe, the German air force, in 1943. “I never saw the inside of a plane,” he says. Within a year of entering the military, the Luftwaffe had literally run out of gas. There was no more fuel for training exercises, and Mruck ended up as a runner on the Eastern front. He was also an occupation soldier in France.

What he remembers most is “fraternizing” with the French people, and being lucky that he performed or witnessed “no evil or bad experiences.”

Coming to America

Eight years later, Armin Mruck’s life would take a completely different path. He returned to his studies after the war and received his doctorate in history from Goettingen University. He then took advantage of an academic scholarship and came to America. After teaching at New York University for three years, he began teaching history at Morgan State University. Among his students was Judge Robert Bell, now judge with the Maryland Court of Appeals.

The Globalization of Towson

Mruck joined the faculty of Towson’s history department in 1967. Just three years later, he would inaugurate his first study abroad program.


Armin Mruck and Peter Singer, VP of Ossietzky Universitaet, Oldenburg, hold up T-shirt.

Armin Mruck and Peter Singer, VP of Ossietzky Universitaet, Oldenburg (retired).


“It was so wonderful. So wonderful. It opened a whole new life,” says 96-year-old Margaret Lafferty, who was a student on that first trip abroad in 1970. “We went everywhere around Europe. England, Italy, Germany.…”

That first excursion sprouted another 20 study abroad tours including a January (or Minimester) option, providing hundreds of students with life-changing experiences.

It was the beginning of Towson’s globalization, Mruck says. By 1987 he and Towson administrators were ready to boost the university’s international reputation. On tour in the United States that year was the German Higher Education Association and Towson was on the itinerary. Then-President Hoke Smith seated Mruck next to Michael Daxner, president of Carl von Ossietzky Universitaet in Oldenburg, Germany, who proposed a partnership between the two universities based on their shared history as a teacher’s college and a shared desire to grow. Mruck visited the university in Oldenburg and agreed the two were a good match.

The TU Carl von Ossietzky Universitaet Partnership is now Towson's oldest international student exchange program allowing students, faculty and administrators an opportunity for academic and social exchange of views. The two universities collaborated on the successful Kurt Weill Festival in the fall of 2010. In addition to coordinating the partnership Mruck also created the Armin Mruck Study Abroad Scholarship. His work at Towson has led him to lecturing in Germany, Poland, France and Italy on anti-Hitler resistance history.

Former TU President Hoke Smith, Armin Mruck and Dr. Rita Kurth sign Towson/Ossietzky Universitaet Partnership Treaty.

Former TU President Hoke Smith, Armin Mruck and Dr. Rita Kurth sign Towson/Ossietzky Universitaet Partnership Treaty.

When not working on the Oldenburg Partnership, Mruck can be seen at the meeting of the Redoubtable Dons at the Towson Marriott.

In addition to co-authoring the book “Deutsche Lebenswege zwischen Diktatur und Demokratie,” (“German Lives between Dictatorship and Democracy”), Mruck has received numerous honors including the Cross of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany for his anti-Hitler resistance research, the Carl von Ossietzky Universitaet Medal for his distinguished career service and The German-American of the Year Award from the Maryland German-American Society. In 2011 the Oldenburg delegation awarded him the Great Seal of the Town of Oldenburg, the town's highest distinction.

Perhaps the accomplishments he’s most proud of are the international exchange of ideas he has fostered here at TU and the legacy of learning he continues to build.


Family Connections to TU - Several Mruck family members have attended Towson University. Armin's wife Marlene took graduate classes in art. Their daughters Heidi Waltos and Lauren Lee Ensor are both TU grads – Heidi received her undergraduate degree in nursing and Lauren her master's in education here. Granddaughter Christie Kyle received a master's in occupational therapy and granddaughter Leanne Ensor will graduate from TU in May 2011 with a bachelor's in art education.

Related links

• Department of History

• Study Abroad

• Study Abroad Scholarships (Dr. Armin Mruck Student Exchange Scholarship)

TU Carl von Ossietzky Universitaet Partnership

Spotlight: Armin Mruck holds Tyrolean hat covered with buttons.

Mruck shows off his Tyrolean hat with buttons from some 20 trips to Europe with TU students.


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