Morton Kroll focused his teaching on his two main passions, public service and the arts, and imbued it with his zest for life. As a professor at the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy & Governance, his favorite course was Public Arts Management.
“He had a twinkle in his eye, a lilt in his voice, and a spring in his gait,” a former colleague reminisced. “He looked straight at you when you talked, and he heard everything you said as well as everything you meant to say.”
In addition to a long career teaching political science and then progressing into public policy and management, Mort chaired the UW Faculty Senate, served as Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences and as the UW’s ombudsman, and directed the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program at the Evans School.
Mort passed away in 2004, at the age of 80. He was survived by his wife, Susan Kroll; a daughter, Julie Hunlock, and two sons, Jim Kroll and John Kroll; and his sister, Frances Ring. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Betty Rubinfier.
A camouflage expert during his World War II service in the U.S. Army, it is perhaps no surprise that he loved artwork and preferred to learn by listening.
“He loved to be with small groups of people and listen very carefully," said his wife, Susan Kroll. “He had a way of listening and brought out what you had inside and emphasized it.”
Morton Kroll was born in 1923, in the Bronx, before his family moved to Los Angeles where he completed high school. Mort’s teaching career began soon after his military service; he returned to the University of California-Los Angeles, where he’d begun college, and earned a Ph.D. in political science. He received appointments at schools, including the University of Oregon and the University of Florida. In 1956, he joined the faculty at the University of Washington, where he spent the final 32 years of his career.
Initially, Mort solely taught political science, but in 1969, he was named a Professor of Public Affairs at the UW Graduate School of Public Affairs, the previous name of the Evans School. After a 32-year career at the UW, he retired in 1988. His passion for the arts continued, however, as he remained active with the King County Arts Commission (now called 4Culture) and 911 Media Arts.