The Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations has unveiled a ninth portrait in its Minority Portraiture Project.
The latest honoree on canvas is John U. Monro, former dean of Harvard College. Monro’s portrait, painted by Stephen Coit ’71, was unveiled last week (Oct. 16) in Phillips Brooks House.
John Usher Monro was born in 1912 in North Andover, Mass. He attended Phillips Academy on scholarship while working as a part-time grocery delivery boy. He attended Harvard, also on a scholarship, receiving an A.B. degree in 1934. After graduation, Monro worked in the Harvard News Office, and later joined the U.S. Navy. He later developed a program for college-bound veterans and became director of financial aid at Harvard. He was the founder and first chairman of the College Scholarship Service, through which colleges share financial data on student applicants for aid.
Monro also spearheaded a nationwide effort to recruit talented poor and minority students who might otherwise never aspire to college. He made the point that if colleges could make an effort to seek out and support gifted athletes, they could surely do the same for students who were intellectually gifted.
Because of his convictions and support for civil rights, he left Harvard in 1967 to become a teacher and administrator at the all-black Miles College in Alabama, where he remained for 30 years before transferring to Tougaloo College, an all-black college in Mississippi. At age 80, he was voted the best teacher at Tougaloo College. Munro died in 2002.
“It was with great honor and pride that I commissioned the portrait of John Usher Monro, a distinguished educator who dedicated much of his adult life to making educational opportunity available to Americans of different ethnic groups and classes,” said S. Allen Counter, director of the Harvard Foundation. “John Monro is my hero, and I am certain that I express the sentiments of many African Americans and others when I say, ‘Thank you, John, for your invaluable contributions to advancing education among the disadvantaged and underprivileged of our nation. Your service has been exemplary.’”